The Minneapolis born defenseman had just finished a year at the prep school Shattuck St Mary's, where his teammates included Drew Stafford, Jack Johnson, and some kid named Sidney Crosby. Crosby scored 72 goals and 162 points in 57 games that season. Smaby scored 3 goals.
Make no mistake, Smaby was not on the ice to score goals. He was a gangly, towering defenseman there to prevent goals. He was heading to North Dakota, a college with a top hockey program, where he would have time to fill out his 6'5" frame and develop his physical game he would need to be successful at the NHL level. He was at his best when he was a physical, imposing defender.
Smaby played three seasons a UND before turning pro. Smaby joined the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2006-2007 season, making his NHL debut on October 4, 2007. He went on to play a total of 122 regular-season games with the Lightning over the course of five seasons, but never quite caught on as a NHL regular. He never scored a NHL goal and collected six assists.
Unfortunately, Smaby's professional career was hampered by injuries. He dealt with various health issues, including hip and ankle injuries, which limited his playing time and effectiveness on the ice. Despite his injuries, he remained a respected and well-liked member of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
After the 2011-2012 season, Smaby spent a few seasons playing in Europe before ultimately retiring from professional hockey. While his NHL career may not have been as long or prolific as some other players, he made a significant impact with his physical style of play and dedication to the sport.