Today is the day Ty Smith fulfills his dream.
Smith, the Spokane Chiefs’ star defenseman who just completed his 17-year-old season, is a lock to hear his name called at the NHL Draft’s first round tonight in Dallas. Smith will likely be drafted within the first 20 picks, and possibly within the first 15.
He’ll also likely be the first Western Hockey League player drafted. He’s the top-ranked player from the WHL and has consistently been in the 10-20 range on prospect rankings and mock drafts.
Three other Chiefs could hear their names called before the draft is over. The draft’s first round is tonight; rounds 2-7 take place Saturday.
Smith, who scored 14 goals and had 59 assists in his second year of major junior hockey, shows up at No. 13 on TSN’s final draft rankings by Bob McKenzie. Sportsnet (Canada) has Smith going to the New Jersey Devils at No. 17. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman has Smith going at No. 10 to the Edmonton Oilers, the same team that drafted Smith’s teammate, Kailer Yamamoto, in 2017.
NHL.com published a three-person mock draft. Two writers, Adam Kimelman and Guillaume Lepage, have Smith going to the New York Islanders at No. 12, while their colleague Mike Morreale predicts Smith will go to the Los Angeles Kings at No. 20. The Kings drafted Smith’s teammate, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, in the second round of last year’s draft.
Predicting where Smith will be drafted proves difficult, given how defense-heavy the first-round projections are. But one team to keep an eye on might be the Islanders, who hold two picks in a row – Nos. 11 and 12. That’s in the sweet spot of where Smith has been ranked and projected this season.
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello spent the past season in the same position for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto employs former Chiefs GM Tim Speltz as its lead scout in the West. Speltz saw plenty of Smith this past season and the assumption would be Lamoriello is familiar with Smith.
Other than that connection, there is little in the way of educated guesses.
No other Chiefs are expected to hear their name called on the draft’s first day. Defenseman Filip Kral is the best bet to be drafted on Saturday.
Kral was the 54th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. That pegs him as being drafted somewhere in rounds three, four or five. Kral was named Chiefs Rookie of the Year last season, and his two-way defensive style should resonate with teams. He’s a puck-moving defenseman who isn’t afraid to join the rush in the offensive zone.
Chiefs forward Eli Zummack is a wild card. If he’s drafted, it’ll likely come in rounds six or seven. Zummack had 15 goals and 26 assists in 58 games. The speedy forward missed some time with an injury but was still seventh on the Chiefs in scoring this past season.
Another wild card is Hudson Elynuik, who is re-entering the draft after not signing with the Carolina Hurricanes, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2016. Elynuik, who just completed his 20-year-old season and his junior career, was second on the team with 86 points. Players that re-enter the draft are historically drafted all over the board.
The Chiefs will have a player taken in the first round for the second year in a row. They could have four players taken, which would be the first time that has happened since 2005.
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