If Ty Smith remains on the board when the Edmonton Oilers walk to the podium with the 10th selection at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas and fellow blueliners Quinton Hughes, Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard have been taken, is he their man? Does Keith Gretzky and the members of his amateur scouting staff think enough of the slick, little playmaker from Lloydminster to take Smith with the pick? It’s their list, not anybody else’s, after all, that matters. I don’t have that answer.
What I do know is Smith, a teammate of 2017 Oiler pick Kailer Yamamoto with the Spokane Chiefs, scored 14-59-73 in 69 games last season and he ticks a lot of boxes for the Oilers. He’s smart. He can run a power play. He skates well. If there’s a negative, given the Oilers’ wish-list, it’s that the undersized Smith is a left-hand shot, not a rightie, who plays the right side. I’m guessing the Oilers have Hughes, Dobson and Bouchard (and forward Oliver Wahlstrom) rated higher, but they’d have to drop to be available at 10.
Not Smith. Based on the majority of prospect rankings I put the most weight in, Smith should be available. Again, do they want him? Based on what Oilers Now host and team radio analyst Bob Stauffer said on Twitter the other day, they should. Stauffer: “He may be ranked 10th thru 20th by most scouting services but to me Ty Smith makes a lot of sense to EDM at #10. Mature, intelligent young man, very good skater with hockey sense. Strong leadership skills, respected by teammates. Had 14-59-73, +44 with Spokane this season.
Here’s how Smith stacks up in the rankings:
International Scouting Services (ISS): 19th
Bob McKenzie of TSN: 13th
Central Scouting: 14th among NA skaters
McKeen’s Hockey: 15th
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet: 12th
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: 10th
Rankings aside, over at MyNHL.com, the staff has Smith going 15th overall to the Florida Panthers. At NHL.com, Mike Morreale has Smith going 11th to the New York Islanders. Larry Fisher, who has done an exhaustive ranking and mock draft of every round at The Hockey Writers, has Smith going 10th to the Oilers. Then, the comment by Stauffer. I don’t think Stauffer offers up that remark unless he knows something. Am I reading too much into it? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
Here’s what people are saying about Smith:
- “Another mobile defenseman, Smith doesn’t have a ton of size, but it rarely seems to matter. Plays against top lines and defends better than many of his peers in this draft class.” – Kennedy, THN
- “Class and character best describe Canada’s U-18 captain. Smith performed well for Spokane in the playoffs before heading overseas. One of the best skaters in the draft he has a never ending thirst to improve.” – Cosentino
- “A silky-smooth puck mover who is the cream of this year’s Western Canadian draft contingent, Smith is an outstanding power-play quarterback with excellent agility and a real nose for the net. There’s some Drew Doughty to his game, especially the way he handles an aggressive fore-check.” – Steve Kournianos, The Sporting News.
A FIT FOR THE OILERS?
Smith, the WHL scholastic player of the year, finished second in scoring among league D-men – New York Islanders’ pick David Quenneville led with 80 points. Scouts will tell you Smith can defend, and that he can also turn the puck up ice in a hurry when he gets the chance. “I have the green light for the most part, the coaches have been great with that,” Smith said this season. “From the defensive side of things, I’ve been working on that quite a bit. The better I defend, the more I can help the offense.”
The consensus among scouts seems to be that Smith is the best prospect coming out of the WHL this season. You’d also think the Oilers might have a little extra intel on Smith with the Yamamoto connection as well. Maybe a team or two picking higher goes off the board and Bouchard or Dobson are available when the Oilers pick. In that scenario, you’d think the Oilers would take either one of them ahead of Smith, no? If they’re gone, different story. Smith fits in a lot of ways.
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