Hunter Smith is a big, big dude.
When I met him at Calgary Flames development camp earlier this week, I was a bit taken aback at just how big he is. He’s listed at 6’7″ and 220 pounds, and he’s every bit as big as advertised. He’s also really excited to be a Calgary Flame, having joined the organization as the team’s second second-round selection (54th overall) in June’s NHL Draft.
Smith and I had a brief chat after one of the development camp on-ice sessions.
Congrats on joining the Flames. How have the last few weeks been for you?
It’s all been pretty quick. Spent the last week out here in Calgary and it’s a beautiful place, obviously. Got to meet all the staff and all the brass up top. They expect big things from me, but it’s been a good week.
You would’ve been one of the younger members of last year’s (2013) draft class [by virtue of your September 11 birthday]. You were chosen this year as one of the older 2014 picks. What were you able to do on the ice this past season that you weren’t the year before?
I left camp after that weak year I had [at] 235 pounds. I came back at 210, lost 25 pounds, and that improved my speed drastically. I think that’s what led to the big contribution from me up-front.
Scouts I know who watch Oshawa a lot were watching Michael Dal Colle a lot, but also mentioned “Who’s this Hunter Smith kid? He’s like a bull in a china shop!” Is that something you really set out to accomplish this season, in terms of using your size and speed to create space out there for your teammates?
Yeah, for sure. At six-foot-seven, that’s what I’ve got to do out there, create space, especially for guys like Dal Colle. And y’know, Dal Colle was a great guy for me to have on my team. He drew a lot of scouts’ attention, so the scouts were there for the game and I just got to put on my show while they were there for him.
What do you want to accomplish this coming year? I know you have one more year before you’re eligible for the AHL [in the 2015-16 season]. What do you want to do to get pro-ready?
I want to get my skating up, my skating and my speed. Put on a few pounds in the mean-time, but if I can get my speed up I think I can be a force to be reckoned with, and I want to get that up right away.