Names To Know: Will Smith Could Be The Center For Blue Jackets At No. 3 In Next Week's NHL Draft

By Will Chase on June 23, 2023 at 1:45 pm
2023 NHL Draft prospect, Will Smith
YouTube/USA Hockey

Welcome to the 5th installment of our 'Names To Know', 2023 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

The Blue Jackets have the No. 3 pick in next week’s draft from Nashville, giving the club an opportunity to claim one of the top centers in a deep class.

Will Smith, 6-foot, 172 lb, and committed to Boston College next season, could be that guy.

In the IIHF World U18 Championship, he was MVP with a tournament-high 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in seven games, helping the U.S. win gold. His nine tallies co-led the tournament with his U.S. teammate Cole Eiserman.

Smith scored 127 points (51 goals, 76 assists) in 60 games for the U.S. National U18 Team and 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 20 games for the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL.

As Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, John Davidson, said in May, the club would draft a center and Smith would undoubtedly be among those that fit the profile of what they’re seeking.

In May, our Dan Dukart put together a film session on Smith.

While it seems likely the Anaheim Ducks would take Adam Fantilli with the second pick, and that it could then be a toss-up between Smith and Leo Carlsson at three for the Blue Jackets, The Athletic’s latest mock draft has Smith at No. 4 to the San Jose Sharks, and so, we’ll find out soon.

Earlier in June, Blue Jackets radio broadcaster Dylan Tyrer spoke with The Athletic's Scott Wheeler, asking why he likes Smith to the Blue Jackets at No. 3.

"I just think it makes a lot of stylistic sense in terms of what they've tried to add and what they still need to continue to add," Wheeler said.

"(Smith)'s probably the most gifted player in terms of breaking down opponents one-on-one with the puck on his stick in this draft. Arguably, a top one, two, three sets of hands. There's a strong case to be made that he has the best hands in the draft.

"I think Smith could really fit with some of (the Blue Jackets') shooters as well, could really compliment a Patrik Laine, a Kirill Marchenko, a Yegor Chinakhov, guys who can really let it go. 

"Smith has an opportunity to be one of the most productive, in terms of a point-producing perspective, in this draft after that Connor Bedard echelon that exists on its own."

Mock Draft Results
The Athletic 4th
My NHL Draft 4th
Tankathon 5th 4th, 5th
PRO Hockey Rumors 4th
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