It takes a village to raise a hockey player, and it looked like Givani Smith brought the entirety of his to the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.
Smith, a forward for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, sat patiently through the first night of the draft soaking in the atmosphere with his parents, siblings, cousins, current and former coaches, and families that he lived with as he climbed the hockey ladder away from his Toronto home.
Saturday, they all 15-20 of them erupted in joy inside Buffalo’s First Niagara Center when the Detroit Red Wings took Smith in the second round with the 46th overall pick in the draft.
“It’s so surreal right now. I’m excited and I think I’ll be a good fit here,” Smith said. “I play a mean game, play in guys face, play hard. I like to use my body and wear defensemen down.”
Smith, a right wing, was ranked as the 54th-best North American skater by Central Scouting. He’s following in the skates of his older brother, center Gemel Smith, who was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2012 in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick.
Givani tallied 23 goals, 19 assists, and 146 penalty minutes in 65 games for Guelph in 2015-16.
“I like to model myself after Wayne Simmonds,” Givani Smth said. “He’s a force on the ice, he scores goals in front of the net, and that’s where I score goals.”
Gemel had 13 goals, 13 assists, and 24 penalty minutes in 65 games for the Texas Stars, Dallas’ American Hockey League farm team.
Big brother Gemel has offered some sage advice to Givani ahead of June’s draft: “Don’t believe the hype – good or bad.”