Provided with the burden of mock-picking players with the New York Islanders’ picks at 11 and 12 in the 2018 NHL entry draft, we had a little real-world fun and dealt one of them, posted yesterday, for Washington Capitals Philipp Grubauer.
It’s an idea we’d toyed with for a while, and it’s hardly original — several publications have independently mused about just such a scenario. We’ll see what real-world Lou Lamoriello does, but for now that provides us at Lighthouse Hockey with the chance to select at No. 12 as well as with the Washington Capitals’ original pick at the end of the round.
Like last year, we turned to LHH regulars North Dakota Red Eagle* and CanadianIslesLifer** for guidance. With the 11th and 12th picks looming, they endorsed my plan to engage the Capitals in a discussion of Grubauer.
- *not his/her real name
- **also not his/her real name
Both advisers had their eyes on the trio of Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, U.S. hockey left winger Joel Farabee, and Spokane (WHL) defenseman Ty Smith.
I agreed to let our Capitals sibling site on SB Nation, Japers’ Rink, have first choice. They grabbed Kotkaniemi.
With that future center off the table, we decided to replenish the defensive pipeline with Smith, who is this year’s draft-eligible standout coming out of the WHL. He is a mobile blueliner with great vision, and his team gave him license to join the rush, which is how he finished second (73 points) in WHL scoring among defensemen to real-world Islanders prospect David Quenneville (80).
A Hockey News profile tells the story succinctly:
“He’s the best prospect in the WHL,” said one scout. “A very smart, mobile puckmover. Really good poise with the puck and really good patience. He’s going to play a lot of minutes.”
[Smith] just posted an exceptional WHL season at age 17. He prides himself on being a complete player (“I like to play in all situations: 5-on-5, power play, penalty kill”) and his boxcars compare favourably to other recent WHL defencemen who had offensive success and went on to flourish in the NHL.
Granted the top 10-20 prospects are always going to have lots of fawning praise shared about them, but looking around at reports on Smith, the only box he doesn’t check is size. He’s listed at 5’10”, 175 lbs. So that’s something he’d have to overcome, just like Quenneville.
But in the new era he’s a better bet to do it, as the reports routinely love everything about his overall game, his approach, his character, and of course his results. And doing it at age 17, historically performing well for his age, is also a promising sign for his future.
So yeah, for our mock purposes, we’ll take Grubauer and Smith, then add one more selection with the Capitals’ selection next week.
Follow along all of the SB Nation NHL mock draft selections here.