Selected in the third round (74th overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers, American forward Ty Smilanic enjoyed a successful freshman season at Quinnipiac University.
The only first year player to appear in all 29 games with the Bobcats during the 2020-21 campaign, Smilanic scored 14 goals and added 7 assists to finish fourth on the team in scoring. Four of those goals were game-winners and he finished the year with 76 shots as the Bobcats made the NCAA tournament.
Smilanic led the nation’s rookies in goals, tied for the national lead in power-play points and was third in power-play goals with six.
He was named ECAC Rookie of the Week three times, won ECAC Rookie of the Month for the month of February and at the end of the season was named to 2021 ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team.
According to EliteProspects 2020 NHL Draft Guide Smilanic is a complete talent who can be relied on in all situations. He anticipates passes and can cut them off using his long reach. In defensive zone battles, Smilanic uses his frame efficiently to outmuscle competition and dig pucks out of scrums.
The 19-year-old is currently playing for Team USA White at the four-team 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, MI. He has registered one goal and five shots in three games.
Smilanic is a highly-skilled player with a deadly shot who dropped to the third round due in large part to an injury-riddled draft season that cost him substantial playing time. It looks like Bill Zito may have good a job of bird-dogging here and gotten great value with this pick. The Denver native is definitely a prospect to keep a close eye on during his sophomore campaign.