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Will Smith (24.06)


Skating:

5/5 Smith has improved his agility, his speed, his edges are more refined and explosive. He activated efficiently and effectively. And has become one of the fastest skaters, if not the fastest skater in the NCAA and his 2023 draft class. Acceleration is particularly impressive and has allowed him to become more physically engaged.


Passing/Handling:

5/5. Will Smith can make any pass work. And none will ever look forced. He can create a dangerous chance for every time he has the puck. The speed at which he can control the puck is unmatched, applying deception in moments that can’t be done or processed by any opponent in his group. 


Shooting:

4.8/5. This was once an area of relative concern for an elite talent. He always had a lethal wrister but the release and accuracy were inconsistent. And the quality of his shot versatility fell off after that. Now he can get a shot off in nearly any body position with pristine accuracy and impressive power. His release is as sharp as it gets.


IQ (Vision, Anticipation, Panic/Poise):

5.5/5. Truly a special talent. He is cerebral and just a joy to watch on the ice. He is so calm with the puck on his stick and knows exactly where his teammates will be and how to facilitate a play. Once the puck is off his stick, he is getting into position to support the play and elevate the opportunity. He never abandons pressure.


Forechecking:

4.9/5. Smith doesn’t forecheck with the tenacity of a power forward but the effectiveness of one. He anticipates and tracks the play better than anybody on the ice and his elite skating, balance and handling makes him the toughest and most consistent player you’ll see battling in the offensive end and neutral zone.


Defense:

4.5/5. Smith is a defensive asset because he drives so much possession. When he does need to transition to defence he does so with ease and his anticipation allows him to block shots, and pressure attackers. He creates turnovers frequently.


Best Asset:

IQ


Biggest Concern:

Physicality  


Top Tier/Role Potential:

Superstar C


Justification for Top Tier Assessment:

Truly a special talent and nearly no holes in his game.


50th Percentile Tier/Role:

2C.


Justification for 50th Percentile Tier Assessment:

I really only see a jam at centre putting him below his ceiling. 


Stylistic Comparable:

Elias Pettersson


Scouts Final Thoughts and Additional Stats/Info:

I really believe Will Smith will be in the conversations with Bedard and Michkov as the best offensive player in the draft. However his defensive effectiveness puts him above Michkov for NHL impact to me. And San Jose immediately has the best pick of the draft by taking him at 4th.


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