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Lower risk, higher rewards

Published Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 12:22 a.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Brendan Smith

Brendan Smith (Credit: Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins)

Brendan Smith is learning that lower risk will lead to higher rewards.

The 23-year-old has long been known as a risk-taking offensive defenseman, but he’s spent his second season in the American Hockey League improving his timing for when to take those risks and when not to.

With three NHL games already under his belt, those gains could win him a full-time job with the Red Wings as early as next season.

“He’s really tried to focus himself a lot more on the defensive side of the game to improve and prepare himself for the opportunities he’ll get in the future,” said Griffins head coach Curt Fraser. “He’s come a long way since last year and the next time he gets called up, he’ll be ready to go.”

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound native of Mimico, Ont., leads all Grand Rapids defensemen and is 11th in the AHL with nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points in 44 games. His plus-5 rating is second to Doug Janik among the team’s blueliners.

He’s just three points away from last season’s 63-game point total and he’s been picking up steam lately, with four goals, eight assists and a plus-5 rating in his past 12 games.

Smith will be ranked the 16th best NHL prospect by the upcoming Future Watch edition of The Hockey News. In the most recent THN, an NHL executive called Smith “a poor-man’s Keith Yandle.”

“He’s a gifted offensive player and he lives right on the edge,” Fraser said. “If it’s 3-3 going into the third, he’s got a chance to win you the game, but where he had to improve was getting away from taking too many high-risk chances. He’s working hard at it and it’s starting to slowly come around. Hopefully by the end of the season, all those turnovers and giveaways from trying to make really good plays will disappear.”

Smith, a former college star with the Wisconsin Badgers, was drafted in the first round, 27th overall, in 2007.

NOTES: Production hasn’t come easily for right-winger Philippe Hudon (Victoriaville, QMJHL) since leaving college to play major junior last fall. But he plays a third-line role on a strong team and has showcased excellent upper-body strength and a willingness to throw his weight around, as well as an extremely heavy shot. He’ll need to work on his skating and develop a quicker release to take a step forward … Defenseman Sebastien Piche (Grand Rapids, AHL) was dealt to Tampa Bay on Tuesday as part of the Kyle Quincey acquisition. Piche was a free-agent signee who the Red Wings didn’t have much room for with more than a half-dozen solid defense prospects in addition to Smith … Defenseman Alexey Marchenko (CSKA Moscow, Minor Hockey League) has returned from a knee injury at Russia’s top junior level and has two goals and four assists in five games … Forward Marek Tvrdon (Vancouver, WHL) was suspended for three games for a spearing incident … Defenseman Max Nicastro (Boston University, NCAA) has been suspended by his team after being arrested this week. For details, visit ESPN.com. A third-round pick in 2008, Nicastro showed potential in the United States Hockey League after being drafted and was a Hockey East all-rookie selectionin 2009-10, but his development has slowed over the past two seasons. He had also reportedly been suspended one game for skipping classes earlier this season.

Following is this week’s statistical report.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids PRO AHL 44 9 9 18 15 -3 102
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids PRO AHL 39 6 7 13 34 -6 53
Nyquist, Gustav Grand Rapids PRO AHL 46 16 31 47 16 +2 125
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids PRO AHL 50 13 23 36 33 +4 151
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids PRO AHL 47 13 16 29 68 +5 96
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids PRO AHL 36 4 8 12 19 -4 62
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids PRO AHL 35 5 3 8 73 -2 48
Ehrhardt, Travis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 15 0 2 2 15 +1 21
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids PRO AHL 50 7 6 13 25 -9 72
Pare, Francis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 49 8 18 26 14 -11 116
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids PRO AHL 35 2 6 8 17 +1 58
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids PRO AHL 44 7 6 13 22 -1 69
Smith, Brendan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 44 9 20 29 68 +5 89
Pyett, Logan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 47 2 17 19 44 -2 114
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids PRO AHL 11 2 1 3 2 -1 17
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids PRO AHL 3 1 1 2 2 0 1
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 47 2 14 16 27 -5 90
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 36 5 20 25 16 -5 69
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 53 17 32 49 58 +3 160
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 50 14 21 35 19 +8 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 61 7 32 39 67 -33 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 49 22 37 59 39 0 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 50 14 25 39 47 +14 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 55 26 33 59 21 -18 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 43 28 36 64 35 +41 166
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 24 3 1 4 20 -4 49
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State COL NCAA 32 5 20 25 2 +10 62
Nicastro, Max Boston U. COL NCAA 27 3 6 9 32 -2 41
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 27 6 4 10 30 0 46
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 31 3 7 10 27 +13 65
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 31 9 15 24 20 +1 105
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 46 14 19 33 8 +5 191
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 42 3 8 11 26 +16 N/A
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 33 9 10 19 57 -9 N/A
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 48 14 22 36 22 -5 N/A
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 36 1 6 7 14 +7 N/A
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 4 0 0 0 2 -3 2
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR-JR MHL 5 2 4 6 10 +2 7

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 43 26 11 5 3 2.82 .916
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 17 3 7 1 1 3.53 .874
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 15 6 8 0 0 3.59 .883
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 13 5 6 1 0 2.68 .905
7 Comments
  1. Wes Nichols says:

    Great article, its really good to hear his game is improving, especially since he looked as if he could have stayed in the NHL earlier this season.
    it looks as if last years draft could have been a really great one for the Wings. in between Tomas Jurco (awesome), Xavier Ouellet (Awesome), Ryan Sproul(doing great), Alan Quine(Awesome), Marek Tvrdon(lol also Awesome), then you have Mattias Backman (ok but did really good at WJC’s), Richard Nedomlel(also putting up good numbers). the only playerthat i really havent heard a lot about is Alexei Marchenko but he got hurt so i cant really complain.

  2. Dale says:

    Wes,

    According to Hockey News a couple of months ago, Marchenko was slated to be captain of the Russian Junior Team. He got a knee injury and that was the end of that. He might be a real find for a 7th rounder.

  3. Teldar says:

    Jarnkrok got a knee blown out by ericsson’s brother and will be out for months, I believe.

  4. wingman56 says:

    Jarnkrok is only expected to be out 2-3 weeks with a Charlie horse but will be back before the playoffs.

  5. NHLrick says:

    Might be a safe bet to remove Nicastro from the rankings. Seriously ugly situation there. Since no mention was made of the charges In the article I won’t mention them now. But either way guilty or not you can’t put yourself in a situation like that and I’m extremely dissapointed from a fans viewpoint and as a sympathizer with any alleged victims.

  6. Rob says:

    The charges were in the article. It’s a sexual assault charge.

  7. NHLrick says:

    Not in this article they aren’t. In the link perhaps.



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