The Spokane Chiefs did all of their homework and always came up with the same answer.
The Chiefs went with the conventional wisdom Thursday and selected defenseman Ty Smith of Lloydminster, Alberta, with the first pick of the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft in Calgary, Alberta.
“(Smith) was the front-runner for us, but we wanted to do our due diligence,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said from Calgary. “There were some good forwards, but he was the No. 1 ‘D-man,’ for sure.”
Smith, a 5-foot-10, 154-pounder, just completed his season with the Delta Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, compiling nine goals and 19 assists in 16 regular-season games.
“I feel my best skills are being a good teammate and leader,” Smith said from his home, where he watched the draft on Shaw TV. … “On the ice, I have good vision and I’m a good playmaker.”
Smith is the second No. 1 selection in Chiefs history. Spokane chose defenseman Jared Cowen in 2006 and won the Memorial Cup, helped by his strong play, in 2008.
“Ty is a dynamic player that makes an impact every shift,” Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Moulton said. “He is a leader and competitor. … Ty’s vision is as good as I have ever seen and he makes those around him better.”
Smith compiled 16 goals and 60 points in 33 games with the Lloydminster Heat of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League during the 2013-14 season. He also competed with Chiefs prospects Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Ethan McIndoe in the 2015 Canada Winter Games, helping Team Alberta win the silver medal.
“(Smith’s) impact at the Canada Winter Games definitely solidified his status with us,” Moulton said. “He showed our organization that he can elevate his game against older players.”
“He’s a high-profile player who played in every major tournament,” Speltz said. “We had the opportunity to watch him a lot.”
Smith said he only recently realized that the Chiefs would select him No. 1.
“I’m very honored and very proud to be a member of the Chiefs family,” Smith said. “You never know until your name actually gets called.”
The Chiefs held the top pick because of a 2013 trade with the Saskatoon Blades, who finished the 2014-15 season with the fewest points in the WHL.
With its second selection, and the ninth overall pick in the draft, the Chiefs took forward Koby Morriseau (6-1, 170) of Grandview, Manitoba.
“He was on our radar right from the start,” Speltz said. “Obviously, size was a factor.”
Other Spokane selections: Matthew Leduc, defenseman, second round, 31st overall; Damon Zimmer, forward, second, 38th overall; Donovan Buskey, goaltender, third; Colum McGauley, forward, fourth; Noah Westgate, forward, fifth; Jevon Schwean, defenseman, seventh; Joel Krahenbil, forward, seventh; Luke Gallagher (Mead), defenseman, eighth; Cedric Chenier, center, ninth; Mitchell Reidy, goaltender, 10th; and Riley Johnson, center, 11th.
“Our third and fourth picks (Leduc and Zimmer) are both big guys with a lot of potential,” Speltz said. “And (Buskey) was high on our list for goaltenders.
“We got a variety of size and skill, and two goaltenders that set us up.”
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