Devils Prospects, Ty Smith

Devils Prospect Ty Smith Ready for Prime Time

New Jersey Devils prospect Ty Smith has spent the past two seasons putting together quite the resume in the Western Hockey League.

The 19-year-old became just the third Spokane Chiefs defenseman drafted in the first round when the Devils selected him 17th overall in the 2018 Entry Draft last summer. A year later, Smith became the first Spokane player to ever be named the CHL defenseman of the year after helping the Chiefs to the WHL Conference Final for the first time since 2011, joining an impressive list that includes Thomas Chabot, Dougie Hamilton, and Keith Yandle, among others. Smith was also a standout on both the power play and penalty kill for Team Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championships.

Ty Smith
Defenseman Ty Smith holds up a trophy after his team won the 3-on-3 tournament at the New Jersey Devils annual July Development Camp. (Photo Credit: Steven Wojtowicz)

The Lloydminster, Alberta native solidified himself as one of, if not the top prospect in the Devils system, and the next stop for the young blueliner might just be Newark, New Jersey.

Roster Spot is Smith’s to Lose

As it stands, the Devils have seven defensemen rostered, three of which are left-handed shots, including Mirco Mueller, captain Andy Greene, and the recently-extended Will Butcher.

The Devils also had the opportunity to pursue some top unrestricted free agent (UFA) left-handed defenseman including, Jake Gardiner, who still remains unsigned as we head towards the final month before training camps and pre-season get underway.

Ty Smith
Ty Smith (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Instead, the Devils chose to use their cap space to bring in a veteran forward in Wayne Simmonds and shore up the right side of their defense by tacking on the full contract of P.K. Subban after acquiring him from the Nashville Predators.

Since the Devils did nothing to address the left-side of their blue line this summer outside of avoiding arbitration with Butcher, it could mean the front office and coaching staff are ready to give Smith a shot come October, but he still needs a strong showing in training camp to solidify his spot with the big club.

The Competition

Smith is set to compete with a number of other players for the final spot on the Devils blue line in training camp come September. Some of the notable in-house opposition on the Devils depth chart includes Brian Strait, Colton White, and Dakota Mermis.

Smith’s offensive ability, above-average skating, and momentum amongst the Devils’ fan base make him the favorite for a New Jersey team revamped with talent, but Strait, White, and Mermis are all seasoned veterans with strong professional resumes who are eager to make a name for themselves and crack the big league roster as well.

Colton White defends against Blake Speers at the New Jersey Devils 2017 Development Camp. (Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils/Patrick Dodson)

Not to mention there a few veteran left-handed defensemen looking for professional tryout offers (PTO’s) such as Ben Hutton, Lucas Sbisa, and Joe Morrow, who Devils general manager Ray Shero might look to invite into camp to compete for the final spot against Smith as well.

But still, Smith’s body of work in major junior helps separates him from the pack. He was stellar in the WHL last season, recording 69 points in 57 games. Those are great numbers for a forward, but for a d-man, they’re eye-opening.

After nearly making the Devils out of training camp in 2018, there’s little-to-no-chance Smith starts next season anywhere besides the Devils come opening night. He’s proven he’s ready for the big stage, and while he’ll likely experience some growing pains, it’ll only make him a better defenseman further down the road.

I’m eager to see what Smith can do in training camp.

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