Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 180 Pounds
Date of birth: September 15, 2002
Hometown: Saginaw, MI
OHL Draft: Round 5, 84th overall, 2018 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
Saginaw Spirit blueliner Mitchell Smith hasn’t gotten a mention from National Hockey League Central Scouting all season, and it’s not because he met draft eligibility for the 2020 draft on the very last possible day. We do however believe he should be on the list.
Smith played his Midget Hockey with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Under-16 squad during the 2017-2018 season where he scored 8 goals and 39 assists in 58 games. Smith had verbally committed to attend the University of Michigan, yet his hometown Saginaw Spirit still drafted him in the 5th round of the 2018 Priority Selection, 84th overall. He was also selected in the 5th round of the 2018 USHL Futures Draft, 72nd overall by the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
During the 2018-2019 season, Smith returned to the Grizzlies and scored 13 goals while assisting on 30 in 52 games. He decided to forego his NCAA career with Michigan and sign with Saginaw for the 2019-2020 season. In 56 games with the Spirit Smith scored 7 goals and assisted on 9 and was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie squad.
In many ways, Smith fits the description of the new, modern, smaller defenceman. He possesses high end mobility and hockey sense. He retrieves pucks quickly and transitions to offence with a very well-timed pass but he also has the ability to skate with the puck and go end-to-end.
Smith is very good at keeping possession and buying time before dishing off an excellent pass, however, there are times he holds onto the puck too long and an earlier pass may have been the better decision. At 5’10” there are always questions raised about defensive abilities. Smith almost always plays stick-on-stick defensive hockey. His skating ability allows him to keep his gaps close and he can force opponents to the outside and then use his stick effectively to break up the rush. Where he can find himself in trouble is in front of his net where boxing out can be an issue. But he’s still young and transitioning from Midget to Junior isn’t always easy.
Smith’s offensive numbers won’t jump out at you. In fairness, he received almost no powerplay time and didn’t get into many offensive situations. Early in the season, Smith was averaging 10 minutes a night on the ice. As the season progressed and his defensive game wasn’t causing the team many issues, the coaches began trusting him with more ice time, but still no specialty teams play. And for most of the season, he was paired with an offensive defenceman so providing offence wasn’t necessary.
We believe there is some intriguing upside and potential in Smith. He could turn out to be a good find for an NHL team in the middle rounds.
We would take that gamble.