Coyotes Top 25 Under 25
#25- Jalen Smereck- D
Where Did He Come From?: Undrafted, 2016 Camp Invitee
Has He Played in the NHL?: Yes! One preseason game
Jalen Smereck is a trailblazer. Last season he became the first African-American to play for the Flint Firebirds, which began operations in 2015. Even though he went undrafted, his talents earned him an invite to the Coyotes development and training camps. He even got to play in one pre-season game, against the Los Angeles Kings, before being sent back to his junior club. The organization was so impressed with him they offered him an entry-level contract.
As Five For Howling previously reported, Smereck sees himself as an offensive defenseman and he likes “to pick [his] spots and jump into the play as much as [he] can.” His offensive abilities show up in his 0.75 point per game total in junior and his point per game total in the AHL last season. He models his on-ice game after superstar defenseman P.K. Subban and given his inclination for helping out others, it’s safe to say he models his off-ice activities after the philanthropist as well.
At this point, he’s not yet shown the ability to translate his game to the professional level. And being undrafted means he’s already flown under the radar of almost every NHL club’s amateur scouting staff. Since he’s now turned 20, it’s expected that he will be spending this season in Tucson but it’s possible that with Jakob Chychurn’s injury he could earn a spot with the big club if he surprises in the upcoming camps.
What does the future hold for Smereck?:
The future for any left handed defenseman in the Coyotes system is murky at best. Regardless of current level, there are 15 other left handed defensemen in the Coyotes system vying for the same positions. If Niklas Hjalmarsson and Alex Goligoski both play the right side, and no one will be taking Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s top spot anytime soon, that still leaves 12 competitors for two spots.
At some point, the Coyotes organization is either going to have to start moving prospects or clearing the way for those prospects where there is a log jam ahead of them.