Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Detroit-red-wings-new-york
Recently I wrote that it is Niklas Kronwall’s time to shine now that Nick Lidstrom has hung up the skates, but a long with Kronwall, a younger Red Wings blue liner is coming into his own a little quicker than expected. Brendan Smith, the highly touted Wisconsin Badger star, got his feet wet briefly last season with the Red Wings, but were not able to see a lot. Back in college, Smith was a high flying offensive defenseman that dominated the WCHA. He led all defensemen in the nation in scoring his junior season with 52 points in 42 games, while becoming a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy. Last year, the Wings gave him a shot, but unfortunately he looked like a middle schoolers on the varsity squad at times. He was sent back down to the Griffins for more maturing and it looks like that time in the AHL paid off. He had a nice season last year with 34 points in 57 games, but was only a plus-two and that likely was the reason that he remained in the AHL for most of the season. I don’t think there is a more difficult position to be in than as a fringe player on a professional sports team. The uneasiness of not knowing if you are going to dress the next game, if making a mistake and giving up a big play could cost you your job. Smith was in that spot last season and you saw how that changed his play. He now has the luxury and comfort of knowing he has a spot on the bench every single single night. Which brings me to this season where the seas have parted for Smith. Though Nick Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart’s move west may not seem like the best thing for Detroit’s fan base, its certainly has given Smith an opportunity to step up and show what he can do. In Sunday’s game at Chicago, Smith looked like he’d settled into his own and we started to see some of the great things he’s capable of doing. He has the speed to rush the puck and demonstrated it through a couple of nice end-to-end rushes in that game. From Sunday’s game, it looks like Smith has caught up with the pace of NHL play and the game has already slowed a bit for him, and it’s only going to get slower. Right now, with the lack of top level defenseman on the Red Wings, it looks like players may have to be developed by throwing them into the fire – and for now it looks like that approach is working for Smith. He just needs to get more familiar with his role and having a coach with confidence in him is a huge step. Smith has the skills to make him a 3-4 defenseman this year. His speed and puck control have gotten him to this point and are the same characteristics that will propel him to a top level defenseman in the NHL. Now it’s time to sit back and watch this talented young player blossom right in front of our eyes.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LT thinks Philip Rivers won’t play for Chargers in 2015

Report: Kevin Ollie 'seriously considered' for Thunder job

Floyd Mayweather: I'm a better fighter than Muhammad Ali

Video emerges of Warren Sapp talking about prostitute arrest

Chip Kelly in 2011: Tim Tebow is not our team's QB type

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

NBA commissioner: Sports gambling is 'good for business'

RG3 'wouldn't be bummed' if Redskins don't pick up option

Adrian Peterson would be the death of the Cowboys

Raptors GM fined $35K for comment about Paul Pierce

Report: Bucs open to trade offers for number one pick

Lou Williams named NBA's Sixth Man of the Year

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz over ejection

WATCH: President Obama leads 'O-H-I-O' chant

Fred Hoiberg shares video of him walking after heart surgery

DeAndre Jordan geeks out at Batman Exhibit

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Marshall Henderson trolls Erin Andrews over Stoll arrest

Steve Ballmer turned Lakers locker room into owner's lounge

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

Ranking the Big Ten college towns

Islanders fans already stealing Nassau Coliseum seats

Aaron Rodgers celebrated 4/20 with weird tweets?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mayweather: I'm better than Ali

WATCH: Sapp talks prostitute arrest

Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 car wins at Long Beach

Pat Riley takes shot at LeBron?

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Stop the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

If Tony Parker's not right, it's going to go wrong for Spurs

So the Mets might be contenders

Why Billy Donovan won't go to Oklahoma City

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.