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Top 25 Avalanche Under 25: #20 Colin Smith

Austin Manak Avatar
May 6, 2015

 

A run of three straight defenseman (check out: #23 Cody Corbett, #22 Will Butcher, and #21 Mat Clark) in our ‘Top 25 Under 25’ series comes to an end today, as #20 on our list is forward Colin Smith. Smith is an undersized centerman with plenty of skill and spunk.

He was fairly consistently rated among all six BSN Avalanche writer ballots, with an average rating of 20.2, including a high of 19 and low of 21.

Who is Colin Smith?

Smith often draws comparisons to #25 on our list, Troy Bourke, because both are undersized forwards with high skill and compete levels, taken in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Smith was grabbed in the 7th round by the Avalanche, after showing steady improvement in each of his first four junior seasons, culminating in becoming a point-per-game player in 2011-12. The year after being drafted by the Avs, Smith had himself an impressive 106 point season, including 41 goals in 72 games with his WHL team, the Kamloops Blazers.

Smith and Bourke epitomize the draft mentality of former head scout Rick Pracey, who loved targeting players who made up for their diminutive physical size with a bounty of tenaciousness and talent. For better or worse, the Avalanche now have plenty of players in their system who fit this profile.

Upon arriving in professional hockey, Smith made an immediate impact, finishing 3rd on the Lake Erie Monsters with 34 points in 2013-14. Last season, Smith saw his offensive production drop to 31 points, good for 5th on the team, however he missed 23 games last year after not missing a game in his first pro-season.

It’s easy to get extremely excited about Colin Smith because of his work ethic on and off the ice, and his ability to make flashy plays like this one. That’s an elite goal, and showcases the potential that Smith possesses.

What is the future for Colin Smith?

Smith’s biggest question mark is always going to be his 5’10” and 175 pound frame. He has proven himself a capable point producer at the AHL level, some of those points of the highlight-reel variety, and his on-ice motor has never been an issue. He saw very limited NHL action last season as an injury call-up, but looked overwhelmed in his handful of shifts.

I personally root for the little guy, and think that in the right situation small players can make important contributions to an NHL roster. The reality is, especially in bottom-six roles, NHL coaches and GMs tend to lean toward bigger players who can impose their physical will.

This upcoming season will be important for the 21-year-old Smith, who is entering the final year of his entry-level contract with the Avalanche. Joey Hishon and Andrew Agozzino are in a similar position of trying to crack the NHL roster, despite being undersized, and are currently ahead of Colin in the pecking order.

All three of these guys are looking to challenge the old-school notion that an NHL bottom six needs to be composed of grinders. That said, the NHL is a rough and tumble arena, and it’s very easy for smaller players to get bullied. There realistically is probably only room for one pint-sized forward in the bottom six at a time, if a team chooses to go that direction.

For Smith, he should look to elevate his game, and challenge for the scoring title with the Avs’ new affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage next season. It’s an accomplishment he is undoubtedly capable of.

Colin Smith is going to be an exciting player for the Rampage, and is worth the price of admission. Look for him to be a fan-favorite in San Antonio next season, and if he is impactful enough on the scoresheet and proves himself to not be a liability in the defensive zone, he may secure himself another opportunity to show what he can do with the Avalanche if the injury-bug strikes.

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