New Jersey Devils: Ty Smith Is Great Bet For Calder Trophy

New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith (24): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith (24): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils knew they had a gem in defenseman Ty Smith. Despite his struggles in the preseason last year, there was no doubt he was on his way to a great NHL career. Most didn’t expect him to adapt to the NHL game so quickly, but he’s been great to start this season. He started the season playing next to Matt Tennyson. He was decent, but his defensive numbers were still bad. However, when he was paired with Damon Severson, everything changed.

In 112 minutes of ice time with Severson, Smith has a ridiculous 66.7 CF%. The Devils have been one of the best teams at 5v5 in the entire league, and a lot of that has to do with how well the defense has played. Smith has played like a certified number-one defenseman.

New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Ty Smith deserves your bet for the Calder Trophy.

He’s been on a bit of a cold streak, going pointless in four-straight games. Still, he’s been playing incredibly well on defense and is just about the only thing that gets fans excited about the Devils’ power play. Smith has played well in the situations he’s allowed to excel in.

When looking at the odds, Fanduel Sportsbook in New Jersey has Smith tied for second in Calder Trophy odds. He’s tied with Chicago Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen and the current favorite is still the Minnesota Wild’s dynamic forward Kirill Kaprizov. Smith has moved well up the list, as he sits at +550 now. Before the season, Smith was north of 40/1 at some sportsbooks.

While the value of the Smith bet isn’t what it was a few weeks ago, there’s still ample value in getting better than 5/1 odds on a pick at this point in the season. Someone like Alexis Lafreniere or Tim Stützle could get themselves back in the race, but it would be hard to see them get bigger roles in the offense they are in as teenagers. Meanwhile, Smith is playing top-line defense for a fun Devils team.

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Kaprizov hasn’t been the superstar he was to start the season. He has 11 points in 14 games, but in six of his games, he has zero points. He’s still the favorite and deserves to be. He had two assists in his last game, so he’s contributing. The West Division is razor thin right now, with seven points between the first place and last-place team. The Wild find themselves in sixth place, but they are one point out of the playoffs. Kaprizov will get more momentum if he keeps scoring at a slightly higher pace and his team gets higher in the standings.

He’s also six years away from his draft year. It’s the Hideki Matsui conundrum. For non-baseball fans, Matsui lost the vote because many didn’t consider him a rookie at all since he had a long professional career in Japan. That same thought process could hurt Kaprizov, who played six seasons in Russia’s top league the KHL.

Lankinen is playing well above his head at this point. He’s helping the Blackhawks to a surprising start, but it’s hard to predict what he will do next. Can a player that struggled to stay afloat in the AHL last season be a true number one for a franchise this season? It’s definitely possible, but it’s hard to put money on that happening.

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Smith is a great bet right now. He’s a top-line defenseman, which voters will take in high consideration, he’s on a surprising Devils team, which will also help his case, and he has one less point than Kaprizov. Smith has all the tools to keep this going, and if the Devils’ power play gets better, he might just stack points like poker chips in due time. Let Smith turn his great season into money in your pocket.