More often than not, Brendan Smith has found himself as the odd man out on the Detroit Red Wings blueline. A lot of factors may be contributing to this “demotion”, none of those factors can be on ice related, though, as Smith has continuously played a strong, steady game. Let’s take a deeper look.
In the ice time that has been given to Smith, he has excelled offensively. He is second among Red Wings defenceman in even strength rate production among those who have played more than 20 games (excludes Xavier Ouellet and his five games), the only person in front of him is Jonathan Ericsson. Funny enough, Ericsson is the person he constantly yo-yo’s in and out of the lineup for.
Smith leads all Red Wings defensemen in Relative CF% with a 7.6. When you disqualify players who have played less than ten games throughout the league, Smith is actually number one in the league.
Yes, the league leader in RelCF% is Brendan Smith. Who is number two? Your future Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson. No one is more dominant on their own team than Brendan Smith, yet he continually gets overshadowed.
One of the biggest advocates for Brendan Smith in the Red Wing blogging community is Prashanth Iyer of Winging it in Motown, he has spit some fire on twitter about him for a while now:
Brendan Smith is the only defenseman in the NHL that ranks in the top-10 in Rel CF60 and Rel CA60.
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) March 27, 2016
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) February 18, 2016
He has known for a long time, even going back to 2014, that Smith was an invaluable part to this team and is elite defensively.
The numbers simply do not lie.
Even when breaking it down in simple terms like goals and assists, Smith finds himself tied for second in even strength points, tied with the likes of Mike Green. The development stage for him is well past it’s expiration and he needs to be handed the keys so he can continue to impress on a larger scale.
Could it possibly be that management has been holding him back? Under Mike Babcock he was finally coming into his own and that was because of the ice time he gave him. Smith is currently having his lowest TOI since his rookie year, wouldn’t it make sense that Jeff Blashill, who coached him with the Grand Rapids Griffins, would rely on him more than ever? The mitigating factor has to be the salary paid to others on the backend, a scary proposition to Wings fans. Where are these types of decisions coming from? Good players should play, no matter the circumstances.
If given a chance down the stretch, Smith can succeed. Maybe it is a good thing after all, the Wings will have an ace in the hole come playoff time. Anyone else smell a playoff redemption story?