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01-14-2012, 02:09 AM
Student Of The Game
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Regina, SK
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Richard Smehlik, D

Smehlik was not an overly physical player, but he had great size (6'4, 222) and asserted himself well on the ice. He averaged 21.73 minutes per game in his 644-game NHL career, and was definitely the 2nd-best member of Buffalo's anonymous defense that played in front of Hasek (led by Zhitnik, of course). Smehlik was Buffalo's #2 defenseman based on ice time in six seasons, five of them to Zhitnik, the other to Bodger in his sophomore season. He was also their #1 in the lockout-shortened 1995 season.
As the 2nd-best defenseman on a conference finalist and a stanley cup finalist, Smehlik has an extensive playoff resume for a guy with 644 regular season games: 88 in the playoffs. He contributed to 8 straight playoff teams in his 8 seasons in Buffalo. As you know, they missed in 1996, but Smehlik missed that whole season recovering from surgery. Coincidence?

Smehlik received little PP time but averaged a decent 0.28 adjusted ESPPG. He killed a whopping 48% of penalties for teams that were 20% better than average on the kill. Obviously a lot of this credit has to go to Hasek, but a goalie alone cannot kill penalties, and no one helped him more than Smehlik during this time. He was three times their top PK defenseman, and two other times their #2. Only two other available defensemen can approach Smehlik's PK resume right now.

In terms of career average ice time, the quality of teams that used him that often, and the number of games that he did it for, Smehlik stands head and shoulders above other available modern defensemen.

Smehlik's offensive value was nothing to get excited about - merely adequate - so the ice time that his coaches gave him was more a result of defensive play than offense.

Smehlik played in 6 international tournaments, scoring 6 points in 39 games.

Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1998-99
Smehlik's skating is his strong suit... an agile skater with good laterl movement who is very solid on his skates.... good balance, tough to knock down... If given more offensive responsibility, he responds... has good passing skill and fair hockey vision... plays well at the point and has a rocket shot, but isn't clever enough with the puck to be a really effective member of the PP... can use his body but has to be more consistent and authoritative... not a mean hitter, prefers to use his stick to break up plays, and he does that effectively... plays a lot of minutes against top lines...
career TOI rankings: 3, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4, 2, 4.

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