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Smith believes he'll be perfect fit with Devils

Defenseman says he has skill, creativity needed to play in NHL

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ty Smith considers himself a perfect fit for the New Jersey Devils.

At a point in NHL history when general managers are seeking faster and mobile defensemen to dictate pace and transition, Smith (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) certainly fits the mold.

"I definitely think that the NHL is moving towards speed, puck movement and skating," Smith said. "The Devils play fast. There's tons of speed and skill, creativity and competitiveness. Those are things I'm familiar with and are part of my game, so I think I'll fit well into the system whenever I do get the opportunity to turn professional."

Smith was the sixth defenseman selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald was stunned when Smith, the first defenseman drafted by the Devils in the first round since Adam Larsson (No. 4) in 2011, was still available for New Jersey at No. 17.

"He's a very efficient first-pass defenseman who can transition you out of your own end," Fitzgerald said. "To me, it's all about understanding what am I going to do with the puck when I get it. The sub 6-footers know exactly what they're doing, and [Smith] does it well."

Video: Devils draft D Ty Smith No. 17

Smith, who is among 33 prospects attending Devils development camp this week, was the second-highest scoring defenseman in the Western Hockey League with 73 points (14 goals, 59 assists) in 69 games for Spokane last season. He ranked second on the team with 27 power-play points (three goals, 24 assists).

"I think my hockey IQ, skating and passing are my greatest assets," Smith said.

The 18-year-old will likely be returned to Spokane at some point before the start of the NHL season to continue his development.

Smith and Spokane forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan were among 11 WHL players invited by Hockey Canada to play at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Kamloops, British Columbia, from July 28-Aug. 4. The camp offers players the first chance to compete for spots on the national junior team for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, 2019.

"Getting the invite was awesome and I'm really excited," Smith said. "Me and [Anderson-Dolan] talked about this after the World Junior Championship last year as something we wanted to do. This is the first step."

Anderson-Dolan, 18, selected in the second round (No. 41) of the 2017 NHL Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, believes Smith has the potential to be a star in the NHL.

"I definitely see him playing in the NHL in the near future because he has the dedication and the work ethic to make it, along with the physical skills," Anderson-Dolan said. "Ty can play many different situations because of his IQ and skating ability. His offensive skills stand out every game, but he's very underrated defensively in my eyes. He can move very well and set up teammates like it's nothing."

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