I might be in the minority here…but the kids are alright.
With the real possibility of Mike Modano (who went to the same elementary and middle school as me; we both had Miss Bowman [no relation to Scotty] for Language Arts as 6th graders. Not at the same time of course. He’s 40 and I’m 22. Different high schools though. His family moved to Livonia, but this is all beside the point)
Where was I? Oh yeah…
With Modano possibly signing with the Wings, there has been a lot of speculation about Kenny having enough money to sign a 6th/7th defenseman.
Well to that, I say who cares?
After spending some time over at one of my daily internet stops — the Snapshots blog to read some of Malik’s fine work — I stumbled upon a few little quotes that made me touch my chin, look up to the ceiling, and pause and think for a moment.
The first from Mr. Brendan Smith himself:
“I know the motto here (for rookies) is to go to Grand Rapids and get a year under your belt,” said Smith, who is taking part in the Wings’ development camp Thursday through Sunday. “But Ken Holland (general manager) has told me the sky’s the limit. I can come in great shape and prove myself and put myself on the squad, or I can do the opposite. I am excited.”
And the second from Mr. Kenny Holland:
“I want to see where he’s at,” Holland said of Smith. “Do we go with kids or do we sign a veteran? If the right free agent comes along at the right price, well sign him. If not, I am comfortable going to training camp and letting these guys sort it out. If they aren’t up to the challenge, we can always look to add a veteran in October or November But I am OK letting this play itself out over the summer and then again in October.”
Could this actually be happening? Could the Wings give this kid a legit shot to make the team and play in Detroit this year?
I sure as hell hope so.
Pass this kid the puck and tell him to give it his best shot.
Smith was a stud in college last season and led all defenseman in points. He was a top 10 Hobey Baker finalist and had a ridiculous 5 assists in an 8-1 Frozen Four victory over RIT. I want to see what this kid can do at the pro level.
Now, I know the Wings have their strategy of letting prospects spend years in juniors and the minors, but every now and then I wish they’d let one of these kids loose and see what happens. We’ve seen plenty of young hockey players make the jump since the lockout. Just last year Tyler Myers and Matt Duchene jumped directly from the WHL and OHL to the big leagues. Of course for every Myers and Duchene you have 10 other players who don’t make the cut, but consider that Smith is older than both those guys, so why not? It’s not like he can’t go back to Grand Rapids if things don’t work out perfectly.
Of course Smith had his little off the ice incident just shortly after signing his contract with the Wings. In no way do I condone his actions, but hey, maybe this kid has a little snarl to him? A little aggression? Likes to throw his body around a little bit? Which is something I think wouldn’t hurt the Wings defense these days.
I hope Kenny is serious about giving this kid a shot. Who knows how much longer Lidstrom is going to be around. I’d love to have Smith spend a season in the big leagues learning directly from the greatest defense I have personally ever seen play the game. Let Smith, Kindl, and Ericsson all battle it out for the 5th/6th/7th defense spots and send Meech packing to join Lebda in Toronto. Smith has all the potential in the world to become a big name on this team in the future and Kindl has been in Grand Rapids for long enough. Give them both a shot and in the end if it doesn’t work, send Ritola down and sign that veteran bottom pair defenseman in October or November.
I’m genuinely excited to see this kid play for the Wings and, I’ll say this, if Smith makes the team, I’ll be the first in line to buy my #2 Red Wings jersey.
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I'm convinced. I don't think his little legal problem was indicative of a major character flaw and, besides, if you can have a major character flaw and look Nick Lidstrom in the face in the locker room, you might just actually be the devil himself, in which case, you're probably really good at hockey.
Loved the post, just one thing though: The Smith incident happened prior to the draft, so the Wings knew about it when they selected him. It's not a big deal though, who among us hasn't gotten into and old fashioned college frat tussle once in a while?
Rob, there was an incident this season as well. He's had two separate run-ins with the law, but I agree with JJ when he says it isn't indicative to his character. It's Wisconsin, what else could there be to do?
I felt the same way when I got to meet Riley Sheahan — just a kid being a kid. You nailed it, Rob. Who hasn't done something stupid?
I believe Smith can make the leap. I'm not just saying this as a Badger homer, but Smith has kind of played at a higher level then those around him. He's got great skating ability, which will be his biggest issue at the next level. I'll explain. He pinches a lot, and if that play busted, he could rely on his speed to get back defensively. That won't work for him at the next level. He's got good vision and needs to pair that with picking the correct offensive opportunities.
And as for the off-ice stuff, it's kind of a non-issue. The party incident was total B.S. I believe there was some Badger baiting going on. It happens with the football players.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback on the post. Big thanks to Michael and Rob for giving me the opportunity to write for TPL. I'm excited for training camp. Looking forward to getting that #2 sweater.
Does anyone else think he'd make a great partner for a guy like Stuey who just stays at home and does the dirty work?
(for even strength situations)
Then PP would be L/R and Kronwall/Smith, with Kindl getting a few looks?
PK Lidstrom-Ericsson Stuart-Kronwall