Sep 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks' Future Friday: Ben Smith


Ben Smith

2012-13 AHL Stats

Games: 67

Goals: 30

Assists: 28

Points: 58

PIM: 86

Drafted: 6th round, 169th overall, 2008 NHL Entry Draft

Prospect Profile:

Ben Smith will rely on his bread and butter to help him try to crack the Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup this season. Smith’s versatility is easily his best aspect, and the 25-year old will do whatever it takes to contribute. His disciplined, responsible play has earned praise from many people around the Blackhawks organization, and it is only a matter of time before he makes his name in the NHL.

Smith excels at defense for a forward, and is always one to take care of his own end before starting out in his opponent’s. His tight-checking, consistent play is something a coach can always rely on, and Smith performs well in the big games. His defensive aspect will be put to the test on the penalty-kill, a staple for Smith while playing with the Rockford IceHogs (Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate).

On offense, Smith is just as reliable, and his hockey IQ is tops among his peers. Smith knows where he should be at all times in the offensive zone, and is never left out of a play. He can deliver a smooth pass or take a shot, and has a great net drive, not afraid to cause chaos in the crease to create an opportunity.

Road To The NHL:

After two great seasons at Boston College, Smith was selected by the Blackhawks in the 2008 Entry Draft. He would return to the Eagles for two more years, 2008-09 and 2009-10, scoring a collective 22 goals and 32 assists in 79 games. Smith ended his collegiate career on top, as the Eagles won a national championship, with Smith earning the Frozen Four MVP award. He also made his pro debut that season, playing in 3 playoff games with the IceHogs, recording a goal.

Smith would become a Rockford regular in 2010-11, earning the team’s Rookie of the Year Award with 31 points in 63 games. Smith wasn’t a household name until he joined the Blackhawks for their 2011 first-round playoff series against the rival Vancouver Canucks. Smith scored three goals in seven games, the biggest coming in overtime of Game Six as the Blackhawks evened the series after trailing 3-0.

In 2011-12, Smith would suffer a hip injury that would require surgery, but not before notching 31 points in 38 games with the IceHogs, and two goals with the Blackhawks in 13 contests. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman like what he saw from the winger, and re-signed him to a two-year contract.

2012-13 was Smith’s best year since turning pro, and scored 27 goals and 47 points for the ‘Hogs in 54 games. He also led Rockford in plus-minus, at +17, despite not qualifying for the playoffs. Smith played in one regular season and one post-season game for the Blackhawks, scoring a goal. He was on the roster as the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup.

Promotion Probability: 7/10

Smith has worked hard to get to this position, and is on the verge of becoming a full-time NHL-er. His work ethic is well suited for a depth position within the Blackhawks, and a defense-first mentality will help him while playing on the third or fourth line. Smith will look to fill in for the departed Michael Frolik, and will get a shot at filling the hole left in the Blackhawks’ stellar penalty kill, left when Frolik was shipped off to Winnipeg in the off-season. Smith has had a great training camp and pre-season so far, scoring two goals in two pre-season games, the second of which came shorthanded against Detroit on Thursday night.

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