The Spokane Chiefs are proud to announce two co-winners of the 2019-20 John “Hitman” Hern Defenseman of the Year award in Ty Smith and Filip Kral. Smith becomes a repeat winner after earning the same honor last season on his way to WHL and CHL Defenseman of the Year awards.
A first-round pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 2018 NHL draft, Smith will leave Spokane as one of the most decorated defensemen in franchise history with his name splattered across the club record book.
After an extended stay with the Devils during the NHL preseason, Smith rejoined the Chiefs in early October, earning WHL Player of the Week honors in his first opportunity back after racking up six points (3G-3A) in three games.
The two-time captain continued to log heavy minutes and match up against the opposition’s best players, recording four goals and 13 assists before departing to represent Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. Smith was honored as an alternate captain at the tournament, helping guide the Canadians to their 18th gold medal and third in the last six years.
Upon return from World Juniors, Smith’s production took off. In 25 games from his first game back on Jan. 10 through the end of the season, he torched the league for 42 points (15G-27A) and a +34 rating, being held off the scoresheet just five times. In total, the Lloydminster, Alta. product finished with 59 points (4th among WHL defensemen) on 19 goals (3rd) and 40 assists (7th) while going plus-49 (3rd among all WHL skaters). He recorded 16 multi-point efforts including six with three or more.
Highlighting the season was his February 28 performance versus Seattle, during which Smith broke his own franchise record for points in a game by a defenseman with eight, including his first career hat trick and five assists. It was just the fifth hat trick by a blueliner in Chiefs history and tied Smith’s mark from 2018 (2G-5A vs. Prince George on Feb. 23) for most assists by a defenseman in a single game.
Among other Chiefs single season defenseman records, his 2019-20 totals rank 11th in goals, t-22nd in assists and 17th in points.
The first-overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, Smith is likely destined to play professional hockey next season. He leaves Spokane with 240 career regular season games played, good for 42nd in franchise history. His 235 points rank 18th, one behind former teammate and co-captain Jaret Anderson-Dolan. He ranks behind only Brenden Kichton (268) in overall scoring by a defenseman.
A master at setting up his teammates, Smith’s 190 assists rank fourth in franchise history among all skaters, behind Ray Whitney (207), Kichton (201) and Pat Falloon (194). Former teammate and current Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto now sits at 5th with 186 (tied with 2008 Memorial Cup champion Mitch Wahl).
2019-20 Spokane Chiefs Team Awards
Player of the Year: Adam Beckman
Players’ Player: Eli Zummack
Co-Defenseman of the Year & Most Sportsmanlike Player: Filip Kral
Co-Defenseman of the Year: Ty Smith
Rookie of the Year: Bear Hughes
Humanitarian of the Year: Noah King
Scholastic Player of the Year: Reed Jacobson