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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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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