It was a late-season game in Flint, between two bad teams, but Kris Draper decided to make the drive.
Draper, who does a lot of amateur scouting these days for the Red Wings, drove to take one last look at Givani Smith, a prospect playing for Guelph.
What Draper saw that night convinced him Smith was the type of player the Red Wings needed to draft.
“Somebody was taking liberties with his teammate, and this was a 20-year-old (on Flint), which considering Givani was two- or three-years younger, that’s a major difference,” Draper said. “But Givani went in there and defended his teammate. He stood up for him.
“Late in the season like that, Givani could have just skated away. What he did, I liked seeing that.”
It’s a long way off, and there’s no guarantee. But Red Wings fans might have a future fan favorite, a cult hero they’ll love — and opponents’ fans can’t stand.
Smith, the organization’s second-round pick Saturday at the Entry Draft, plays the type of physical and agitating style that is sure to entertain Red Wings fans, but opponents will hate.
“He plays the game hard,” Draper said. “He’s around the blue area (crease) a lot, which a lot of junior players aren’t.”
The Red Wings love the abrasiveness Smith brings to the organization.
“He makes life miserable for anybody, actually makes life miserable for a lot of his own teammates because he’s starting stuff all the time,” said Tyler Wright, the Red Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “If he’s not helping out on the score sheet, or he’s not figuring in offensively, he’s making their other best players really be aware of what’s going on the ice.