July 19th, 2024

Smith content with all possibilities in NHL draft

By JAMES TUBB on June 27, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Shane Smith celebrates his game opening goal in the first two minutes of the Tigers 5-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen on Sept. 23, 2023 at Co-op Place.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

Entering his second NHL draft year, Shane Smith is as excited this season as he was last.

The Medicine Hat Tigers forward was coming off a 19-goal, 32-point season heading into the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. He ultimately didn’t hear his name called that weekend and took it as part of his mission to improve.

A year later, with 29 goals and 51 points under his belt, and a 161st ranking by NHL Central Scouting in North American skaters, it’s the same jitters as the NHL draft gets underway Friday.

“It’s definitely a pretty exciting weekend, I’m not too sure if I’ll hear my name called but regardless, it’s exciting,” Smith said. “Especially for a team like us, we have a few guys for sure going, so it’ll be great to see where they end up.

“Hopefully my name is called as well, but if not, that’s OK and it’s still a pretty exciting situation to be in.”

Smith garnered a lot of attention throughout the season, increasing his goal total while also flourishing at his steadfast role as the Tigers’ first option on the penalty kill alongside Hunter St. Martin, who could also be selected this weekend.

The 19-year-old Cessford product says he’s filled out questionaries and spoke over the phone with nine NHL teams throughout the season. Having that extra attention at the NHL level and the Central Scouting ranking he maintained throughout the season was a change from the year prior that Smith welcomed.

“Being ranked this year, you know there’s maybe a little more of a chance of that to happen this year,” Smith said. “To just have that thought of, ‘Wow, I’m in this position where I could potentially to be drafted,’ that’s something that I’ve dreamed of. If that happens, that’s great.”

As excited as he is at the potential to hear his own name, Smith will be tuned in even more than NHL fans looking for their teams to get better as he waits to hear some of his teammates reach the childhood dream of getting drafted. The Tigers haven’t had a player selected in the NHL draft since defenceman Dru Krebs was taken 176th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2021.

“Those guys are my best friends and my brothers, so it’ll be great to see where they end up for the remainder of their pro career,” Smith said. “Not just me but our whole team is excited to have those guys picked and to see where they go.

“We’re all happy for each other, we’re a family. So we’re always texting each other and asking how we’re doing. So I think it’ll be a really exciting and really awesome weekend.”

There’s options available for Smith and any player who doesn’t get selected in the NHL draft. Teams invite free agent players to their development camps and training camps in the fall before potentially signing them.

Both forward Oasiz Wiesblatt and Josh Van Mulligen were undrafted invites to NHL development and training camps; Wiesblatt attended the Columbus Blue Jackets camps and Van Mulligen was invited by the Edmonton Oilers for theirs.

Until his name is called or those invites are made, Smith is enjoying what is left of summer and he is already looking forward to next season with the group.

“When you look at our roster and our organization, we’re in a pretty exciting spot,” Smith said. “Going into next year, we’re kind of hoping to be that team next year and we have a good chance.

“For me personally heading into next season, I’m a big offseason guy and love getting better every day. It’s exciting for me to have that chance to prove to myself going into next year with how hard I’ve worked.”

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