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Standout defenseman Ty Smith returns to Spokane Chiefs from New Jersey Devils

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 1, 2019, 9:16 p.m.

Boston Bruins’ Jack Studnicka, right, battles for the puck against New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith  during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Charles Krupa / AP)
Boston Bruins’ Jack Studnicka, right, battles for the puck against New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Charles Krupa / AP)
By Kevin Dudley For The Spokesman-Review

The best defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League is coming back to Spokane, and the rest of the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division just got a little nervous.

The New Jersey Devils reassigned Ty Smith to the Spokane Chiefs on Tuesday ahead of the National Hockey League’s opening night Wednesday. Smith is expected to be available for the Chiefs’ three games this weekend, starting Friday night against Seattle at the Arena.

Smith, the Devils’ first-round pick at the 2018 NHL draft, nearly made New Jersey’s opening-night roster last season as an 18-year-old. But a slow start to the preseason, plus New Jersey’s offseason acquisition of veteran defenseman P.K. Subban, means Smith will continue his development in the junior hockey ranks. As a 19-year-old, Smith is ineligible to play for New Jersey’s minor league affiliate.

Smith was the CHL’s Defenseman of the Year last season and finished with seven goals and 62 assists. He quarterbacked Spokane’s top power-play unit and was a co-captain along with Jaret Anderson-Dolan.

Smith played every minute of Spokane’s five power plays in Game 5 of the Chiefs’ playoff series against Everett last season.

The addition of Smith means the Chiefs boast a talented and veteran blue line. Smith could be paired again with 20-year-old Noah King.

Filip Kral, another 20-year-old, is also in the team’s top four on the blue line. Nineteen-year-olds Matt Leduc and Bobby Russell will also provide veteran depth.

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