July 9, 2010
Retrospectacus IV: The Kids are Alright
With the real possibility of Mike Modano (who went to the same elementary and middle school as me; we both had Miss Bowman [no relation to Scotty] for Language Arts as 6th graders. Not at the same time of course. He’s 40 and I’m 22. Different high schools though. His family moved to Livonia, but this is all beside the point)
Where was I? Oh yeah...
With Modano possibly signing with the Wings, there has been a lot of speculation about Kenny having enough money to sign a 6th/7th defenseman.
Well to that, I say who cares?
After spending some time over at one of my daily internet stops -- the Snapshots blog to read some of Malik’s fine work -- I stumbled upon a few little quotes that made me touch my chin, look up to the ceiling, and pause and think for a moment.
The first from Mr. Brendan Smith himself:
"I know the motto here (for rookies) is to go to Grand Rapids and get a year under your belt," said Smith, who is taking part in the Wings' development camp Thursday through Sunday. "But Ken Holland (general manager) has told me the sky's the limit. I can come in great shape and prove myself and put myself on the squad, or I can do the opposite. I am excited."
And the second from Mr. Kenny Holland:
"I want to see where he's at," Holland said of Smith. "Do we go with kids or do we sign a veteran? If the right free agent comes along at the right price, well sign him. If not, I am comfortable going to training camp and letting these guys sort it out. If they aren't up to the challenge, we can always look to add a veteran in October or November But I am OK letting this play itself out over the summer and then again in October."
Could this actually be happening? Could the Wings give this kid a legit shot to make the team and play in Detroit this year?
I sure as hell hope so.
Pass this kid the puck and tell him to give it his best shot.
Smith was a stud in college last season and led all defenseman in points. He was a top 10 Hobey Baker finalist and had a ridiculous 5 assists in an 8-1 Frozen Four victory over RIT. I want to see what this kid can do at the pro level.
Now, I know the Wings have their strategy of letting prospects spend years in juniors and the minors, but every now and then I wish they’d let one of these kids loose and see what happens. We’ve seen plenty of young hockey players make the jump since the lockout. Just last year Tyler Myers and Matt Duchene jumped directly from the WHL and OHL to the big leagues. Of course for every Myers and Duchene you have 10 other players who don’t make the cut, but consider that Smith is older than both those guys, so why not? It’s not like he can’t go back to Grand Rapids if things don’t work out perfectly.
Of course Smith had his little off the ice incident just shortly after signing his contract with the Wings. In no way do I condone his actions, but hey, maybe this kid has a little snarl to him? A little aggression? Likes to throw his body around a little bit? Which is something I think wouldn’t hurt the Wings defense these days.
I hope Kenny is serious about giving this kid a shot. Who knows how much longer Lidstrom is going to be around. I’d love to have Smith spend a season in the big leagues learning directly from the greatest defense I have personally ever seen play the game. Let Smith, Kindl, and Ericsson all battle it out for the 5th/6th/7th defense spots and send Meech packing to join Lebda in Toronto. Smith has all the potential in the world to become a big name on this team in the future and Kindl has been in Grand Rapids for long enough. Give them both a shot and in the end if it doesn’t work, send Ritola down and sign that veteran bottom pair defenseman in October or November.
I’m genuinely excited to see this kid play for the Wings and, I’ll say this, if Smith makes the team, I’ll be the first in line to buy my #2 Red Wings jersey.
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