Brendan Smith: A Natural NHL Player
Brendan Smith has just recently joined the Detroit Red Wings playing regularly in this past week. Smith, wearing jersey number 2, has stepped up from his place with the Grand Rapid Griffins. Down in the AHL, Brendan Smith was racking up the points and caught the eyes of Wings manager Ken Holland and Coach Mike Babcock.
Smith, who just recently turned 23 years old, started his career playing for a Junior “A” ice hockey team once known as the Wexford Raiders. The Raiders, now known as the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, were happy to have him play for one season. He played 21 games, scoring three goals and having three assists. The same 2005-2006 season, Smith played for another OPJHL hockey team known as the St. Michael’s Buzzers. Smith had a higher success with the Buzzers. Throughout his 39 games played, Smith scored five goals and having twenty-one assists. His next season with the Buzzers was even better. At only seventeen, Brendan scored twelve goals and twenty-four assists.
Smith then started playing NCAA Division 1 ice hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 2007. At the same time, Smith was a first pick for the Wings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. During his three years with the Badgers, Smith averaged close to a point in each game, racking up a total of 87 points. Smith joined the Grand Rapid Griffins in the AHL for the 2010-2011 season, reaching 32 points in his 63 games.
Smith made his NHL debut on November 17 2011 against the San Jose Sharks when he was recalled after Ian White fractured his jaw. It was the very next game against the LA Kings where Smith earned his first NHL point on an assist to a goal made by Justin Abdelkader. Since that game, he has logged anywhere from 12 to 17 minutes of ice time each time he has been called up to play. When Mike Commodore was traded to Tampa Bay, Ken Holland told DetroitRedWings.com that Smith “played good in the American Hockey League, it’s kind of hard to keep Mike Commodore around here when Brendan Smith is ahead of him.” Since Commodore’s trade, Smith has played three straight games. On March 2 2012, Brendan earned his first NHL goal against Minnesota, where the Wings won 6 to 0. Smith also landed the third star of the game. The last game the Wings played against the Blackhawks, the new Wing player engaged in his first NHL fight with Andrew Shaw. He definitely got a couple great punches in. Brendan Smith plays solid each and every game.
Smith has serious potential. Ever since the first game he appeared in, he has caught the eye of many. Brendan fits in as a big defenseman, standing at 6’1”. He weighs about 200 pounds, but realizes he needs to hit the gym. He is an exceptionally offensive defensive player. Smith is also very aware of what is going on around him. He is always looking for someone to pass to or how to make a great play. Obviously most of his playing is due to skills he has learned over time, but that does not stop him from wanting to soak up all the information he can from his veteran teammates, Lidstrӧm in particular. Smith has admitted to looking up to Lidstrӧm since he was a young kid. Smith realizes the importance of learning all he can while he is with the Wings, which will only further his skill level.
Smith is already making an impression on the team. He already has the nickname “Smitty”, which coaches and fellow players refer to him as. Coach Babcock also thinks he has the potential to be great and is a natural NHL player. He said that Smith is “a real good player, we’ve known for a long time….Smitty’s a good skater.” He has been said to have raved that he believes that Smith should have been up in the NHL all along.
I think if Smitty continues at the rate he is going and continues to be open to learning from those around him, he will one day be able to be one of the greats of the NHL.