Ty Smilanic – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

Ty Smilanic

2019-20 Team: United States U-18 Team
Date of Birth: Jan. 20, 2002
Place of Birth: Denver, CO
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 170 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: C, LW
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible


Like the players on the ice, every year the writers try to create separation between draft-eligible players, and once again the US National Development Team legacy will live on. Of them all, Ty Smilanic, (C,LW) has one of the highest ceilings. He is characterized as a fluid skater with a high-energy style of play and a powerful shot.

Although he has been described by the director of central scouting as an attacking forward, he has a tendency for lurking like Ilya Kovalchuk. Another feature of his game is his disciplined positioning. You can see he doesn’t sell out and knows how to shift on the fly, which the NHL scouts value highly. He displays a very mature game overall and has expressed a desire to be a wholesome player at both ends. Being a Colorado native, Smilanic looks to the game of Nathan MacKinnon for inspiration but exhibits the flare of former Philadelphia Flyer, Jeff Carter. If his hands catch up with his feet, perhaps he can one day score like him.

Ty Smilanic USNTDP
Ty Smilanic, USA NTDP U17 (Credit: Rena Laverty)

Smilanic originally committed to the University of Denver but a sudden coaching change resulted in him “de-committing.” Although Smilanic says it was because of the coaching change, Denver says he was “dropped.” He is now committed to Quinnipiac for the 2020-21 season and is the highest-rated player they have ever been able to recruit.

Related THW Draft Profiles

Ty Smilanic – Draft Projection

All signs point to Smilanic being drafted no later than the second round but for the first time in a long time, two major events — the U18 International Tournament and the NHL Draft Combine — will not take place. Anyone who couldn’t catch up with him during the season would have the opportunity at these events, where the best-of players in one arena can be measured a final time before selection.

Smilanic is one of the players who could be impacted by a curtailed season, missing time to a broken finger, high ankle sprain, and mononucleosis. He was able to play in 34 games in 2019-20 and contribute 7 goals (22 points) but for this season he has unfulfilled potential, leaving his draft projection in doubt.

Central scouting is very bullish on Smilanic ranking him the 18th best American skater. Perhaps anticipating a successful U18 Tournament and combine, they slotted him at No. 24 overall. I think this is the earliest we’ll see his name. It’s highly likely he slides to the second round, but this could play out well for the team that selects him. He could prove to be a low-risk, high-reward selection if he falls far enough.


In an interview with the Bobcats Hockey Blog, Smilanic said he “loves to play the game really fast. I love having the pressure on me as it makes me play at a higher level” and “I am also willing to do whatever it takes to get Quinnipiac the first National Championship in program history.”

“Smilanic plays the game with speed, quickness, smarts and skills,” Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “What sets him apart is he’s always on the puck, he’s always forcing the play, always making things happen. 

In a post-game interview after submitting to Russia, Coach Seth Appert said of Smilanic, “He’s grown tremendously in his overall game. Not only is he an offensive force for us but now he’s a guy we trust in big-time defensive situations, and penalty kill, and D-zone face-offs.”


  • Skating
  • Shot Power
  • Gap Control

Under Construction

  • Shot Accuracy
  • Puck Control
  • Size and Strength

NHL Potential

Assuming he grows all facets of his game from here, Smilanic fits the makeup of a poweresque forward that can be used on special teams. He definitely needs to bulk up.  His gap control is excellent for killing penalties and his speed combined with shot power could prove lethal on the power play. Smilanic’s primary position is center, but has played enough wing to earn a coach’s trust. He has too much skill to play as low as the fourth line, but his hand skills may not be good enough for the top six out of the gate.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 7/10, Defence – 6/10


2019-20 – Voted Best Forward of the U17 Five-Nations Tournament

2017-18 – T1EHL U16 Champion – Colorado Thunderbirds

2017-18 – T1EHL U16 Leading Scorer

Interview/Profile Links