Well like Mike Babcock likes to say, you've got to earn more minutes and better linemates. If Brendan Smith isn't getting the minutes or the linemates, it's because Babs doesn't think he deserves them. Should be be gifted more opportunities just because? I mean, ALL players will produce more with more minutes and better linemates. That's a truism. Doesn't mean you deserve them though. Clearly the coach doesn't think he does.
Oh, Smith screws up just as much as everyone else eh? So why's he on the third pair? Did Babs just arbitrarily decide Smith would be down there, despite being just as good as everyone else?
Of course not.
Brendan Smith is on the third pair because he's not a better defenseman than Kronwall, Ericsson, Dekeyser, or Quincey. Which, coincidentally, is why people focus on him more. Because he's not as good. And screws up more often.
That, or Mike "Greatest Coach in the League" Babcock is actively trying to make this team worse because he doesn't like Smith. I'm sure that's it.
I can only focus on one of your obsessions at a time, so pick Babcock or Smith and lets just stick with one subject for the time being.
Yes, with just under two seasons of NHL experience, Smith is currently playing on the third line. I'm not sure why this is so blasphemous. Or is it because he was drafted in the first round that somehow means he needs to be a top 3 defenseman at this point in his career? And to be completely honest, I think its a good place for him to play given where he is in his development and where he can contribute the best for the team. Out of all the Wings' defensman, Smith is fourth behind Kronwall, Eriksson, and Kindl for giveaways/game, but Eriksson is a late round pick so I guess he doesn't count, and both Eriksson and Kronwall are on the first line, so apparently they're just better and we should ignore their screwups. Smith, however is our best defensman when it comes to takeaways per game, and he's also the best defensman in giveaway/takeaway ratio. We've heard repeatedly that Babcock assesses performance on who has the puck after you, and who has the puck before you. By this data Smith is doing quite well where he's placed in the roster because he's doing more for his team on the third line when it comes to gaining puck possession than any other defender is on any other line. So keep him where he's helping the team out the most, and if an injury should happen to someone in the top four and Smith gets his chance to reproduce his value on a different line then good for him. If not, he's still playing effective, possession-based hockey where he's at, and steadily improving as well. And in the meantime people will continue to focus exclusively on Smith when he happens to lose the puck apparently because he's a third line defensman. I personally prefer looking at all defensman (or any player for that matter) objectively and analyzing their play accordingly, regardless of what line they happen to play on or where they were drafted.