“It’s pretty amazing. It’s a great experience. I am just glad to be here right now,” Smith said. “It was fast out there. It’s definitely surreal playing on the ice with some of the guys that are Dallas Stars.”
Smith, Dallas’ third-round pick (69th overall) in 2009, is coming off a stellar three-year career at Miami University. Over the last two seasons he’s tallied 58 goals, 44 assists and a plus-53 rating in 77 games.
“The confidence has been a huge factor for me in being able to find the back of the net, and also the physical aspect of it. I’ve put on a lot of weight and strength over the three years at Miami,” said Smith, who was 160 pounds when arrived at Miami and is now 185 pounds. “All that has correlated to my success in college hockey.”
This season, as a junior, he ranked second in the nation in goal scoring with 30 in 39 games. His 48 points were tied for ninth.
“Real savvy kid, great goal scorer, lot of hockey smarts, just a real hockey player,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It will be a good experience for him.”
As for when Smith will get in still hasn’t been decided. He still has some immigration issues to work through, which means getting a work visa. Once that process is completed, the Stars will pick a time to put him in the lineup.
“The focus right now is on the group, not any one individual,” said Gulutzan. “We want to make sure if we put him in it is the right time and place to do it.”
Smith, who turns 21 on April 1, is projected as a top six forward, but he could start down the lineup in his first NHL game.
“(Top six) is where you have him earmarked, but usually these guys have to start a little lower and get their feet wet and then maybe throughout the game you can move things up and back,” said Gulutzan. “I don’t think we’re going to put him right up there to put a lot of pressure on him. We’ll just ease him, see how he is going and we can move things around.”