Right wing Givani Smith was drafted by the Red Wings in the second round, 46th overall, in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Toronto native is one of four Red Wings prospects writing for our Taking Flight blog series, which chronicles the players' ups and downs as they work their way to becoming Red Wings. Smith played last season for Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Here is his sixth entry of 'Powering Forward.'
Powering Forward - Entry 6
by Givani Smith
Hi everybody, hopefully you've had an opportunity to enjoy the summer weather. Since I'm a hockey player, summertime is the offseason, it gives all us players time to work on our bodies and get back to that strict regimen of the schedule that we're on for dieting and taking care of our bodies. In the summer you have a lot more time to prepare your food and you have time to plan out your meals. You really just have to work out for a couple hours and then focus on getting the right nutrients for your body and getting a good night's sleep.
Because we're not playing games, the summer allows me to really get back in tune with my body and allows me to focus on my body, making sure that everything I put inside my body is giving me my maximum ability to perform the next day, for the next skate, the next workout. During the season, with all the practices that we're doing, the games that we're playing, the weekend road trips, it's tough to really stay in touch with your body.
My summer's been going pretty good. I've been training in Detroit since June at Barwis Methods. It's pretty much a repetitive day. I wake up in the morning pretty early, then grab a bite to eat for breakfast. Then head over to Barwis for a workout, 9:00 lift. Then from there, we do a full-body workout for about two hours. Then I head down to Little Caesars Arena to skate. I'm with other prospects (and) guys who signed with the Grand Rapids team. On a daily basis, it's myself, Filip Zadina, Troy Loggins, Alec Regula, Taro Hirose, Ryan Kuffner, Vili Saarijarvi, Evgeny's also there, Svechnikov and Joe Veleno, him as well. We see each other pretty much every day. We hang out, too, while working out and training, we talk a lot. Pretty much the only people we really see besides our trainers and the medical staff and stuff like that. So we kind of formed a secure bond.
Also at the gym Barwis Methods are a lot of Michigan guys, NHL guys who are from Michigan tend to work out there, including several Red Wings - Luke Glendening is always in the gym working out, Dylan Larkin, guys in their group, also Dennis Cholowski and Helmer (Darren Helm), he's there a lot. When we're at the gym, there's open conversations (with Red Wings players), but I don't really ask them specific stuff, though I'm sure they're willing to answer if I were to.
When we head down to Little Caesars Arena to skate, it's pretty cool having all these players trying to run an unsupervised practice. We manage because we're mostly doing all focused game drills, game situation drills and lots of shooting drills to help us, help myself. I've got to get comfortable with putting the puck in the net a little more and shooting the puck on net and shooting for scoring chances, shooting to score in all situations and all scenarios of the ice.
We're also learning new things from one another, helping each other out. When a player is the first to pick up a new technique or pick up a new way to do the drill, you ask that person to teach it to you. It's not always one of the guys that's been on the Red Wings, it could be one of the prospects or another NHL player from Michigan who is skating with us. We all ask for help and ask for the best way to do stuff to make us better.
As I've blogged about before, I want to be a Red Wing and I understand my situation. I'm a work in progress. My confidence, my mindset heading into this season is I'm going to do what I can, I'm going to play to the best of my ability in (training) camp and hopefully I can get games to showcase myself and make myself seem like an asset to help the team win. That's where I'm at right now. I know Detroit wants guys who can win games and help the team win playoff games and eventually win the Stanley Cup because that's the whole point of this whole rebuilding thing. I want to be out there and make the coaching staff and all the scouts and development guys think, hey, that guy would be a good part, that guy would be a good piece to our puzzle for this team. That's what I want to do, that's where my mindset's at.
If it doesn't happen out of camp, if I go back to Grand Rapids this season, first I want to dominate the AHL, I want to be playing the best hockey I can because I know what I'm capable of doing now in this league (AHL). I've got goals I want to accomplish. If I just so happen to get called up, I'll be really excited because that's something I've always wanted to do, play an NHL game, play in the NHL. It's not a sprint for me. I've known since I was drafted I would have to go through my development to get to the NHL. It's a very tough league to make it and not many guys are fortunate enough to play in the NHL. So, I've always known what I have to do and I knew I had to go to Grand Rapids and get better and learn a few things. Like my brother (Gemel) before, he's been in the league and he's told me things I have to do and things that I would need to work on to be an everyday NHL player. That's what I want to be.
But you want to know something? I have it pretty good. It's amazing. I get to play hockey, professional hockey. I'm 21 and I get to play in front of 10,000 fans every night, practice every day, doing something I love. At the end of the day, hockey is what I was doing for fun when I was a little kid. That's what we all did. I'm fortunate enough to even be playing on this team (Grand Rapids) and to be playing professional hockey. The NHL is a tough league. I'm pretty sure everyone else has said the same exact thing and there's nothing better than striving to overcome a tough obstacle to achieve your goal. That's why I spend my summers training to be the very best. I wouldn't want it any other way.
In 64 games last season with the Griffins, Smith finished with six goals, seven assists, was a plus-2 and was assessed 86 penalty minutes. In four playoff games he had two assists, was a plus-1 with nine penalty minutes.