HSJ addresses the Wings’ need(?) for an enforcer

In her latest mailbag feature, the Free Press’s Helene St. James discusses the possibility of the Red Wings adding a player with dedicated fighting skills to the lineup in the light of Anthony Mantha’s injuries suffered due to skirmishes:

[Dylan] McIlrath, 28, came into the NHL with high expectations, drafted 10th by the New York Rangers in 2010, but the 6-foot-5, 236-pound defenseman has not been able to establish himself as an NHL regular, logging just 66 career games. He’s a good minor leaguer, someone the Wings value having in Grand Rapids because he helps prospects adjust to professional hockey and opens up space for them.

[Givani] Smith, 22, was drafted in the second round in 2016, billed as a high-energy, physical forward with a respectable scoring touch. He made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 21 games (two goals, one assist) over three stints before being returned to the Griffins in February. Smith (6-feet-2, around 205 pounds) has fought multiple times at the American Hockey League level, twice during NHL preseason games, and once — Nov. 12, 2019, at Anaheim — in a regular-season game.

The key for Smith will be demonstrating he can be physical — such as delivering big hits — without taking penalties for the Wings. He must show he belongs in the bottom-six mix amid competition that includes Adam Erne and Evgeni Svechnikov. The Wings certainly could stand to be more physical, beyond just having a capable fighter whose absence would not be as devastating as losing a scorer such as Mantha, and that’s where Smith has to establish his value in the lineup.


Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.