Hometown: Hinsdale, IL
Barron Smith closed out the Toronto Maple Leafs picks' at the 2009 NHL Draft and he was described by Brian Burke and his father, former Oiler Steve Smith, as a project. He played a season in the USHL with the Chicago Steel and put up the kind of numbers associated with "stay-at-home" defencemen. He suffered a shoulder injury last season which he split between the London Knights and the Peterborough Petes. His stats continued in the same defensive vein. The McKeen's write-up (via HFBoards) tends to paint him as a Hal Gill-type of player:
Ultra-aggressive defenseman who looks to time his hits and will drop the gloves without any hesitation.
Not fluent with the puck, he handles it poorly and shows very little eagerness to retrieve or make a play with it.
He does a good job defensively of using his size and staying in front of his man as not to expose his poor backwards skating.
He does have good mobility and considering his height, he moves rather well.
Will be a suffocating defensive defenseman.
It's quite common for Americans to play a year in the USHL to give themselves another year of hockey before moving to the NCAA (or at least that's what Chemmy told me) but ultimately Barron decided against that move:
"I'll join the rush if I need to but I'm mostly a stay-at-home defenceman," Barron said. "I know it's going to be difficult. It's a new league. There's a lot to learn. I thought it was a good move to play in the USHL last year. It left my NCAA eligibility open so I could decide what to do -- and in the end I wanted to come here.
He already fights as well as the Leafs' current 'enforcers'
Barron was featured as one of the big fallers prior to the draft likely due in part to his limited play due to his shoulder injury:
Barron Smith's father is former Edmonton Oilers great Steve Smith. Secondly, [he was] playing in [his] first season in the OHL with a fair amount of hype after playing previously in the United States. And lastly, [he] disappointed in [his] play this season...was [not] billed as the second coming of Bryan Fogarty, the fact that [he was] able to make such a small impact on the ice is alarming.Smith was unable to play his way on to a deep London blueline and was eventually traded to Peterborough (as part of the Trevor Cann deal). While [his] bloodline may still get [him] drafted, there is no question that [he] will go a lot lower than [he] would have if [had] had [a] stronger season.
His beaming father was at the draft. He acknowledges that he is a project but believes that he has the work ethic to succeed. If he makes the NHL coming from the 188th pick I assume it'll validate the Leafs as a spectacular drafting team. More likely, it'll be a case of a player finding his niche and working to maximize his limited skillset.