Defenseman Brendan Smith ready to make jump to the NHL

DETROIT, Mich. – After four years of attending the Red Wings Development Camp, Brendan Smith should be accustomed to all that comes with the annual rookie workout.

All but sitting in Nick Lidstrom’s locker.

Smith’s comfort level on the ice was obvious Thursday, but he spoke of the added pressure the Red Wings have put on him by placing him in the famous captain’s locker.

“It kind of shakes me up every time,” Smith said. “I kind of expect it now, but it’s scary. I jump right into the locker room and try to switch with a few other players.”

Ken Holland and the Red Wings brass expect a lot out of the University of Wisconsin product. After watching him blossom into a top NCAA defenseman for three years, they signed their 2007 1st round draft pick to a three-year contract this summer. Smith is eager for the opportunity to crack the lineup, and laughingly agreed with a reporter’s statement against Detroit signing a veteran defenseman.

One player Smith was excited about possibly playing with was Nicklas Lidstrom, who he called “the master.”

The Red Wings hope that Smith will share plenty more than a locker with “the master.” He will be given a shot this fall to become the newest stalwart on the Detroit blueline, especially with the departure of Brett Lebda to Toronto on Wednesday.

Last year at Wisconsin, Smith scored 9 goals and had 23 points in 31 games. He also amassed 75 penalty minutes on the way to Wisconsin’s Frozen Four appearance at Ford Field.