It seems that Mike Babcock is taking a page out of Todd McLellan’s book and will be starting on defenseman on offense.
McLellan decided to play Brent Burns on offense because of his sub-par play in the defensive zone and the rash of injuries the team had at the forward position.
With Justin Abdelkader out due to a gash in his leg from a skate, Todd Bertuzzi struggling to return to the line-up, and Jordin Tootoo being sent back down to Grand Rapids; Mike Babcock decided now is the best time to take McLellan’s tactic and use it in Detroit.
Brendan Smith has had a rough few games on the defensive side of the ice, but has a great offensive mind, which led to him putting up 52 points with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2009-10, being named a First Team All-American in WCHA, and a Hobey Baker Award finalist during his Junior season.
Offensive fire power has always been Brendan Smith’s strong point and while there is a ton of talent and potential in him as a defenseman, he could have a solid game as a forward.
It will be an adjustment for Smith though, no longer will he be battling in front of the net, giving the outlet pass, or standing on the blue line to hold the puck in; it will be a whole new game for him and there will be struggles along the way.
Smith does have a penchant for joining the rush, which will help him offensively and the Red Wings play a man-on-man defensive style will help him defensively, as long as he does not get sucked towards the goal line too often and leave the defenseman on the point open.
This is a major gamble for the Red Wings, but if Smith can make a difference offensively we could see him on the left-wing for a the rest of the season or at least until everyone is healthy.