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St. Mike's Smith is Wings' top choice

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
For the second time in three years, the Red Wings used their first pick of the NHL Amateur draft to nab a defenseman.

During Friday night's special televised first-round event from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the Red Wings used their lone first-rounder -- No. 27 overall -- to select Toronto-native Brendan Smith, who spent the 2006-07 season with St. Michael's of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League (OPJHL).

The Red Wings picked defenseman Jakub Kindl of the Czech Republic in the first round with the No. 19 overall pick. Kindl was the highest-pick used by the Red Wings on a defenseman since Niklas Kronwall (No. 29) in 2000 and Jiri Fischer (No. 25) in 1998.

Many experts felt that Smith would be around in the third round, mainly because of the lesser brand of competition provided at the Tier 2 level. But TSN contributor Bob McKenzie complimented the 18-year-old, saying, "there are few defenseman at any level that can skate the puck up the ice like Brendan Smith."

Smith, who is 6-foot-1 and 170-pounds, turned 18 in February. He played in 39 games during the 2006-07 season, netting 12 goals with 24 assists for St. Michael's.

He plans to attend the University of Wisconsin this fall, joining two other first-round picks ? Kyle Turris (No. 3, Phoenix) and Ryan McDonagh (No. 12, Montreal).

The following is what scouting experts had to say about the Red Wings' No. 1 pick, Brendan Smith:

Bob McKenzie: He has a tendency to try to do too much with the puck but scouts like the raw potential. Smith is currently committed to the University of Wisconsin for this fall, but the St. Michael's Majors of the OHL are said to be putting on a push to sign him. This is a factor for some teams. One club that likes Smith said they would be less inclined to take him if he plays in the OHL because he needs the extra development time in college. Another team, though, suggested the sooner he starts playing a pro style schedule, the more he will develop. Smith is a strong candidate to be taken between 20 and 30 but could slip a little, to the top of the second round.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled defenseman with good puck skills. Has good mobility and a good skating stride. Able to join the rush well and is creative with the puck. Needs to make better decisions with the puck and move it quicker. Needs to improve the consistency of his physical play.

From International Scouting System: Smith has very attractive attributes, which include his strong skating and puck-handling abilities. Playing in a Tier 2 league for the last two years has allowed him to play with great confidence and at times with too much comfort. He loves to rush the puck whenever he gets a chance and loves to step up and challenge the opposing team early. He has just recently returned from a minor injury to rejoin his team for the 2nd round of the playoffs. As of late, he has brought his game under control and has learned to pick his spots better and play a less risky game. When under control and playing smart, Smith is a very intriguing prospect.

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