2014 NHL Draft Profile 72: Hunter Smith

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Hunter Smith has really shown a lot of improvement over his three years in the OHL. Passed over in last year’s draft, its likely that someone takes a chance on him this season after a productive season with the Oshawa Generals.  It should be noted that if Smith were born a mere five days later he wouldn’t have been eligible for the 2013 draft to begin with. He also missed 3 months of the 2012-13 season with a tendon injury in his hand.

With many of Oshawa’s best offensive weapons graduating after the 2012-13 season, Smith was given a bigger role, and was able to thrive in it, putting up 16 goals and 40 points in 64 games. This was after putting up just one goal and 1 assist over his first two years in the league.  Smith helped the Generals to the number 1 seed in the OHL’s Eastern Conference but after two straight sweeps to start the playoffs, the team suffered their own four game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final, falling to the North Bay Battalion.  Smith put up 3 goals and 11 points in those 12 playoff games, continuing to show the improvement that marked the second half of his OHL season.

Hunter Smith

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Sep 11 1995 — Windsor, ONT
Height 6.06 — Weight 220 [201 cm/100 kg]

Coming in at 6’6″ tall and 220 lbs, its pretty easy to see what teams will like about Hunter Smith.  He is a man amongst boys in the OHL.  Add in a healthy mean streak, the willingness to absolutely crush opponents along the boards, and even to drop the gloves when necessary, Smith has that “potential power forward” look to him.  He has a decent wrist shot and release, but most of Smith’s points come from standing in front of the net and causing havoc.  It is very difficult to move him once he sets up shop, and he can tip in pucks and bang in rebounds once he’s there.  When he has the puck on his stick, Smith is willing to barrel through defenders to take the puck to the front of the net.  At the end of the day though Smith is much more of a goal scorer than a playmaker.  He has decent puck control and protection, but he lacks the vision and passing ability to put up a lot of assists.

When Hunter Smith entered the OHL in the 2011-12 season with the Windsor Spitfires his skating was atrocious.  Over the past three years (especially this year) it has improved greatly, however he still has a ways to go before it is at a pro level.  His short, choppy stride doesn’t provide him with very good acceleration, and it definitely leads to below average top end speed.  He also lacks agility, and can use some work on his technique.  However his balance is very good and a strong core and lower body make him very difficult to knock off the puck.  A little work with a good skating coach could go a long way given Smith’s other physical gifts.

Smith competes defensively and is willing to play hard along the boards in his own end.  His long stick and huge size make him effective at taking away passing and shooting lanes as well.  However, the one area he struggles defensively is again with the lack of speed as he can be beaten by quicker opponents.

Hunter Smith’s game is reminiscent of Bryan Bickell of the Chicago Blackhawks.  If he can improve his speed he might be able to become a physical third line winger who can see some powerplay time being positioned in front of the net.  He is going to need some patience though, and is a major project right now.

Here are some highlights and interviews with Hunter Smith.

Come back tomorrow to see my latest article previewing the 2014 NHL Draft.


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