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A growing Badger gets stronger defensively

Smith's improvement is helped by increased size

Friday, 07.11.2008 / 1:17 PM ET / News
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
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A growing Badger gets stronger defensively
Smith is among a trio of Badgers that were first-round draft picks in 2007.
DETROIT -- At the 2007 prospect camp, Brendan Smith was the first round draft pick getting his first taste of professional hockey. This week, he’s one of the veterans.

“This year I know a little bit more of the drills, know more people, the staff and everything,” the left-handed defenseman said. “So it’s been a little bit easier to get used to everything. The first year was just a stepping stone to get used to things.”

The Red Wings’ 27th overall pick, Smith spent the past season with the University of Wisconsin, where he had two goals and 10 assists while accumulating 26 penalty minutes.

“I think defensively I’ve grown a lot, because of (head coach Mike Eaves and his staff), because that’s what they harp on," Smith said. "That’s what I’ve got to work on, is my defensive play without the puck, have a better stick and my pivots and stuff, so I think defensively I’ve been a lot better.”

Smith is one of three Badgers who were first-round selections in 2007, joining Phoenix prospect Kyle Turris (No. 3 overall) and Montreal prospect Ryan McDonagh (12th overall). But Smith said playing in front of the Badgers’ faithful at the Kohl Center in Madison was a huge learning experience.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve never had a fan base of 15,000 before, so stepping into that … I could barely hear my D-partner, you just look up and you’re in awe, of everything.”

Detroit Vice President and assistant general manager Jim Nill had a lot to say about the Wings’ defensive prospect.

“He’s got high-end skills, he’s a great skater, an effortless skater that really jumps into the play,” Nill said. “Good puck skills, sees the ice well. He’s got high-end offensive skills.”

Nill said that the biggest difference he saw in Smith from a year ago was his size.

“He came here last year at about 175 pounds, he’s up to 190 now,” Nill said. “It’s part of the process, it’s him working harder to get stronger, and it’s partially mother nature.”

Smith said that he isn’t done growing just yet, acknowledging that his size is a big factor in reaching the next level.

“I’ve got to get a little bit bigger; it’s an obvious,” he said. “But I’ve got to keep working on my defensive play without the puck, just like all those little tactics that pro players use, what my coaches harp on, just like a good stick, how to play in the corners without the puck and stuff.”

Don’t expect to see him in the Wings’ line-up this season, however. Smith expects to leave Wisconsin with a diploma, which means he’d be staying there for another three years.

“Right now I think I’m going to get my degree, go my full four years,” he said. “But you don’t really know, depending on what happens with Detroit and everything defensive-wise. Whatever happens, happens.”


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80