The Winnipeg Jets select Nathan Smith with the 91st pick in the third round of the draft. Nathan Smith is a 19 year old Centre, who is 6’0″ and 174 lbs.
Smith was ranked 92nd by hockeyprospect.com and 165th by Future Considerations. Smith played the 2017-18 season with Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL and put up respectable numbers. Smith had 17 goals and 30 assists in 51 games for the RoughRiders. Also note that Smith finished the season with 84 PIM and appears to have some grit to his game.
While Smith scored tons of goals during this past season, take a look at his first USHL goal of his career.
Smith was a definite leader on the RoughRiders this past season as he finished 3rd on the team in goals, 1st in assists, and 1st in points. Smith also led the team in PIM as well and proved he can get on the statsheet in multiple ways.
Nathan Smith led a very average Cedar Rapids team in scoring in the USHL last season. Jets have had a lot of success from that league – from American systems at all levels, actually
— Murat (@WPGMurat) June 23, 2018
Smith has also committed to Minnesota State University for the upcoming season. The Winnipeg Jets have had plenty of success with the college/university program in the past. When looking at the Jets lineup, there are many players that went through a similar process to what Smith is planning on doing.
Kyle Connor began his career in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms before moving on to the University of Michigan where he played one season before turning pro. Andrew Copp also played in the USHL before moving on to the University of Michigan and then to the Jets.
As for players that played a full four seasons in college, look no further than Brandon Tanev. Tanev played four seasons at Providence College before turning pro and signing with the Winnipeg Jets. The trend of overage American players doesn’t stop there as the Jets have had a number of these players over the past several years.
The Jets have done pretty well with their over age Americans.
— Arctic Ice Hockey (@arcticicehockey) June 23, 2018
Nathan Smith is definitely on a good path by going to college and there is even some solid NHL alumni that have gone to Minnesota State University. David Backes as well as Tim Jackman were both Maverick’s at one time so there is potential for development throughout his university career.
Where will Nathan Smith fit? If Smith can continue developing throughout his university career, he might have a chance to crack the Jets lineup down the road. The ability to score points and add a toughness to the lineup is important in the current NHL landscape. Look for Smith to potentially challenge someone like Brendan Lemieux down the road for a grinder role on the Jets 4th line.
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