Griffins' Smith named to AHL rookie team
Smith, 22, ranks among the AHL’s top defensemen with 12 goals (1st among rookies, T6th overall) and 32 points (T4th rookies, T25th overall) through 57 games. Despite having missed 17 games due to injuries, he stands among the Griffins’ leaders in goals (1st defensemen, 7th overall), assists (20 – 2nd defensemen, 9th overall), points (2nd defensemen, 10th overall), plus/minus (plus-7 – 3rd defensemen, 5th overall), penalty minutes (113 – 2nd defensemen, 3rd overall), power play goals (five – 1st defensemen, T4th overall) and game-winning goals (four – 1st defensemen, T1st overall).
In Grand Rapids history, only two rookie defensemen have registered more points than Smith’s 32, and both are currently playing in the NHL: Florida’s Clay Wilson (37 in 2005-06) and Colorado’s Kyle Quincey (33 in 2005-06). Overall, Smith’s point total ties for the 12th-highest ever by a Griffins rookie.
The Mimico, Ontario, native becomes the third Griffin to be named to an AHL All-Rookie Team, joining current Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (2008-09) and Jimmy Howard (2005-06). This marks the second significant AHL honor for Smith this season, who became the first rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be chosen for an all-star game. However, he was forced to miss the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic due to injury.
One of the most highly touted rookies to ever play for the Griffins, Smith was named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last season as a junior at Wisconsin, when he led all NCAA defensemen in scoring with 52 points (15-37—52) in 42 games. Drafted 27th overall by the Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, he helped the Badgers reach the championship game of the 2010 Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit.
Smith becomes a top candidate for the AHL’s Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award (outstanding rookie), the winner of which will be announced on April 7.
The other members of the AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities, are forwards Luke Adam (Portland), Zac Dalpe (Charlotte) and Rhett Rakhshani (Bridgeport); defenseman Erik Gustafsson (Adirondack); and goaltender Eddie Lack (Manitoba). Smith and Lack are the only representatives from the Western Conference.