The first thing you’ll notice about Ty Smith is his size.
The second thing is how big he plays.
Smith, seventh in Future Considerations Winter ranking for the 2018 NHL Draft, has built his way into one of the best defensive prospects available in late June.
Dan Lambert, his coach with the Spokane Chiefs, thinks very highly of the prospect.
“He plays in every key situation for us,” Lambert said. “He’s our quarterback on the power play and five-on-five. He wants ice time and he demands it.”
While he doesn’t have impressive size (5-10, 174) he makes up for it with slick skating and offensive capabilities.
He’s shown that at every level.
In 2013-14, Smith played for the Lloydminster Heat AAA Bantam team, scoring 16 goals and adding 44 assists in 33 games played.
He followed that year by scoring nine goals and 19 assists in 16 games for the Delta Hockey Academy Prep team in 2014-15. A season that helped cement Smith’s status as the No. 1 selection in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
He played one year of midget in 2015-16 for the Lloydminster Bobcats, appearing in 28 games and managed to score 23 points. He also played two games as a 15-year-old with Spokane, where he notched two assists.
The resume left plenty to be excited about.
Smith put up impressive numbers during his first full season with Spokane. He scored five goals and added 27 assists for 32 total points in 66 games.
But this year Smith has taken his game another level. And he’s really separated himself from some of the other defensive prospects in the upcoming draft.
In 49 appearances he has score eight goals and added 42 assists for 50 points.
“Thanks to Smith’s speed and offensive acumen he is always a player who is a threat to push pace from the back end, whether it be the long pass to a streaking teammate or going for a skate through the neutral zone,” said head western Canada scout Justin Froese.
By looking at his numbers, it’s evident that his offensive game is developing at a rapid pace. He’s already eclipsed his WHL high in every offensive category after just 49 games.
While some may question his strengths as a defender, Froese doesn’t seem to think that Smith has any drastic problems on the defensive side of the game.
“He is great at keeping gaps tight and although plays offensive defense, he only takes calculated gambles and seldom gets turned around by his opponent in a match up,” said Froese.
The 17-year old defenseman has some work to do, but scouts have long taken notice.
He is currently slated to be an early first round pick in 2018.
“He’s a guy who I would take a top-10 pick on as he has the potential to be a top-four blueliner in the NHL for years to come,” said Froese.
As Froese said, Smith should be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
The game is shifting to a focus on speed and skill, and the need for puck-moving defenseman who have the abilities that Smith has is at an all-time high.
A player with Smith’s capabilities has the potential to be a top-4 puck moving defenseman for years to come. For most teams, Smith will probably need another season in junior, but once he is ready to make the leap to the NHL he will be making a big impact from the blue line for years to come.