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Hall of Fame Article - Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen


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Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen - Class of S73


Position: D
Birthplace: United State of America
Height: 6-ft-3
Weight: 200 lbs.
Drafted: S65 - 2nd overall (HC Davos Dynamo)
Username: @flyersfan1453


Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen was a consensus top-2 prospect all the way leading up to the S65 VHL Draft, and he more than lived up to the billing. Playing eight seasons in the VHL, Werbenjagermanjensen was a two-way force on the back end, and certainly ended up the best player from the S65 draft class. He was a big defenseman that wasn't afraid to use his body, was an effortless skater with a dangerous shot from the back end, and was a true shut-down defenseman to boot. Werbenjagermanjensen would go on to become one of just seven players to capture the Sterling Labatte Trophy on three or more occasions (at the time of winning his third, in S70, he was the first player in 30 seasons to do so), and is also one of just two multiple-time winners of the Alexander Valiq Trophy. He was an effective contributor from the moment he was drafted, jumping straight into the VHL in S65 and from his breakout year in S67 through to his retirement in S72, Smitty was perennially one of the VHL's best players.


Career Awards
S68 - Sterling Labatte Trophy (Top Defenseman)
S68 - Alexander Valiq Trophy (Top Offensive Defenseman)
S68 - All-VHL First Team
S69 - Sterling Labatte Trophy (Top Defenseman)
S69 - Jake Wylde Trophy (Top Defensive Defenseman)
S69 - All-VHL First Team
S70 - Sterling Labatte Trophy (Top Defenseman)
S70 - Alexander Valiq Trophy (Top Offensive Defenseman)
S70 - Brett Slobodzian Trophy (Most Outstanding Player)
S70 - Continental Cup Champion (Moscow)
S70 - Alexander Beketov Trophy (Most Assists)
S70 - All-VHL First Team


S63 (VHLM - Ottawa)
13 GP | 0 G - 3 A - 3 P | +4 | 16 PIM | 26 HIT | 9 SB
Playoffs: 13 GP | 0 G - 4 A - 4 P | -2 | 14 PIM | 24 HIT | 10 SB


Werbenjagermanjensen signed with the Ottawa Lynx to begin his VHLM career. A highly touted young prospect from the beginning, he still took some time to adapt to the league, putting up 3 points in 13 games. Featuring two of the VHLM's top three scorers in Elias Dahlberg and Chance Matthews, the Lynx were a high powered offense, but ended up falling in a six-game series with the Saskatoon Wild. Werbenjagermanjensen's production may not have jumped off the page during his 13-game VHLM trial, but his poise and puck moving ability did, prompting the Lynx to retain his rights and make him the 5th overall pick in the VHLM Draft.


S64 (VHLM - Ottawa)
72 GP | 8 G - 60 A - 68 P | +5 | 140 PIM | 260 HIT | 98 SB
Playoffs: 6 GP | 0 G - 10 A - 10 P | -2 | 30 PIM | 34 HIT | 12 SB


Smitty helped make the Lynx' decision a good one. Alongside fellow top S65 propects Gritty and Carles Puigdemont (they'd go on to be three of the top four picks), he finished as the fourth highest scoring defenseman in the VHLM, while also racking up 260 hits. The Lynx finished third in the league, but not far behind Las Vegas and Halifax. Despite the best efforts of Werbenjagermanjensen, who had himself a dominant 6-game series with 10 points and 34 hits, the Lynx were unable to get past Halifax in the playoffs.


S65 (VHL - Davos)
72 GP | 3 G - 44 A - 47 P | -1 | 164 PIM | 275 HIT | 131 SB
Playoffs: Did Not Qualify


Werbenjagermanjensen ended up the 2nd overall pick behind only VHLM teammate Puigdemot, going to the HC Davos Dynamo, where he'd play alongside former Lynx teammates Elias Dahlberg and Pat Svoboda. Jumping straight to the VHL after his draft year, Smitty's rookie season saw him tally 3 goals and 44 assists in 72 games, while also finishing 8th in the entire league with 275 hits. After a last-place finish in S64, Davos jumped up the standings, finishing with a 35-32-5 record this time around, but falling just short of the playoffs.


S66 (VHL - Davos)
72 GP | 16 G - 32 A - 48 P | +23 | 124 PIM | 167 HIT | 137 SB
Playoffs: 9 GP | 0 G - 3 A - 3 P | +3 | 14 PIM | 12 HIT | 16 SB


Davos was an improved team again in S66, a squad with plenty of offensive talent. Werbenjagermanjensen's game showed growth. His point totals remained relatively the same, but he improved his defensive game and began evolving a lethal shot from the point that would be a key weapon in his arsenal going forward. Smitty's goal output improved from 3 goals to 16 and the Dynamo wound up with a playoff berth after a 37-27-8 season. They made surprisingly easy work of the favoured Riga Reign in the playoffs, outscoring them 12-4 in a 4-0 series sweep, but they were overmatched in the European Conference Finals against Helsinki and bowed out in 5 games. Werbenjagermanjensen tallied just 3 points in 9 playoff games with 12 hits and 16 blocked shots, but the playoff run gave the Dynamo some hope for the future.


S67 (VHL - Davos)
72 GP | 19 G - 44 A - 63 P | +15 | 104 PIM | 133 HIT | 131 SB
Playoffs: Did Not Qualify


Unfortunately for Werbenjagermanjensen, Davos regressed in S67 after trading Dahlberg, Svoboda, and Rylan Peace for draft picks in the off-season, and they finished well behind Riga for the final playoff spot in the European Conference, despite Smitty himself taking a step forward in his third year. He established or matched career highs across the board offensively with 19 goals, 44 assists, and 63 points while posting a +15 rating on a losing team.


S68 (VHL - Davos)
72 GP | 27 G - 59 A - 86 P | +36 | 104 PIM | 168 HIT | 118 SB
Playoffs: 7 GP | 0 G - 4 A - 4 P | -1 | 14 PIM | 14 HIT | 21 SB


Smitty truly arrived in S68, exploding for 27 goals, 59 assists, and 86 points. He finished 10 points ahead of the next highest-scoring defenseman in the league (9th in league scoring overall) and top-10 in the league in +/-, as well. For his efforts, Werbenjagermanjensen captured his first VHL hardware - a Sterling Labatte Trophy as Top Defenseman and an Alexander Valiq Trophy as Top Offensive Defenseman - as well as being named to the All-VHL First Team. The league had expanded to 12 teams and Davos claimed the fourth playoff spot in a tightly-contested European Conference, but they were eliminated in round one in a seven-game series against Malmo. With the Dynamo making minimal noise in the post-season and Smitty's contract up, he found himself testing Free Agency ahead of S69.


S69 (VHL - Moscow)
72 GP | 17 G - 66 A - 83 P | +41 | 160 PIM | 264 HIT | 117 SB
Playoffs: 11 GP | 2 G - 7 A - 9 P | -3 | 18 PIM | 17 HIT | 16 SB


The Dynamo pursued bringing back Werbenjagermanjensen in Free Agency, while he also received interest from Moscow, Toronto, and Calgary. Ultimately, he chose to sign a two-year deal with the Moscow Menace, and his dominant play from the season prior carried over. Werbenjagermanjensen finished the season with 17 goals and 83 points while endearing himself to his new team by stepping his physical game up once again, delivering 264 hits, a total that would end up the second highest single-season of his career. He finished second in the league in defenseman scoring, two points back of Vancouver's Dilijodh Starload, and while he didn't defend his Valiq from S68, he instead captured the Jake Wylde Trophy as the league's best defensive defenseman, a second-straight spot on the All-VHL First Team, and a second-straight Labatte Trophy. In the playoffs, the Menace knocked off Helsinki in round one before losing in 5 games to Riga in the second round. Werbenjagermanjensen had 9 points in 11 games with a -3 rating and 17 hits, a solid performance, but perhaps a tad disappointing coming from the best defenseman in the VHL.


S70 (VHL - Moscow)
72 GP | 18 G - 68 A - 86 P | +13 | 136 PIM | 194 HIT | 123 SB
Playoffs: 15 GP | 5 G - 16 A - 21 P | +14 | 24 PIM | 34 HIT | 18 SB


The core of the S69 Moscow Menace remained almost entirely intact for S70, and as the players developed, the Menace became a powerhouse, finishing with the league's best record at 50-17-5. Werbenjagermanjensen put together what may have been the finest season of his career, matching his career high with 86 points, racking up 194 hits and blocking 123 shots. He lead the league in assists and finished 4th in VHL scoring, easily tops among defensemen. He became the first player in 30 seasons to capture three Labatte Trophies, also earning a third-straight All-VHL First Team selection, the second Valiq Trophy of his career, and his first Brett Slobodzian Trophy as the league's Most Outstanding Player. And this year, that success would finally translate into the post-season. The Menace made quick work of Prague in the first round and Riga in the second, marching to the finals on an 8-1 record. They fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 in the Continental Cup Finals, before winning three straight to win the series in 6. Werbenjagermanjensen was finally a Continental Cup Champion. He finished tied for the playoff lead in scoring with 21 points in 15 games, and lead the post-season with his +14 rating.


S71 (VHL - Moscow)
72 GP | 6 G - 51 A - 57 P | +5 | 126 PIM | 155 HIT | 140 SB
Playoffs: 15 GP | 2 G - 15 A - 17 P | +2 | 34 PIM | 31 HIT | 27 SB


Expectations were high for the defending champs in S71, but the Menace were not the dominant force they were a year prior, and some of the core was getting older, including Werbenjagermanjensen, whose offensive prodution dipped to 57 points. For the first time since S67, there were no new additions to the trophy case. But the Menace did finish atop a weak European Conference with a 37-27-8 record, and they began to flex their experience in the post-season. The Menace swept Malmo in the opening round and beat Riga in six games to advance to their second straight Continental Cup finals. However, the Seattle Bears proved to be too much, capturing the cup in a five-game series. It was still a strong post-season for Smitty, piling up 17 points in 15 games to go along with 31 hits and 27 blocked shots, but a repeat was not in the cards.


S72 (VHL - Calgary)
72 GP | 13 G - 50 A - 63 P | +21 | 103 PIM | 115 HIT | 135 SB
Playoffs: 19 GP | 0 G - 10 A - 10 P | -1 | 28 PIM | 38 HIT | 40 SB


After not being re-signed by Moscow, Smitty tested Free Agency ahead of Free Agency, where he ended up with the Vancouver Wolves after considering offers from Toronto and Prague. The Wolves had the best record in the league in S71 and seemed poised to make another playoff run. After a slow start, however, the Wolves made an unexpected decision to enter a rebuild, starting with the trade of future Hall of Famer Julius Freeman to New York. The move caused some friction between Smitty and his new team after signing there expecting to contend, and he found himself traded to the Calgary Wranglers ahead of the trade deadline. Werbenjagermanjensen finished the season with a solid 63 points in 72 games, though his post-season production dipped to 10 points in 21 games (he did post strong defensive numbers with 38 hits and 40 blocked shots). In the playoffs, the Wranglers played tight seven-game series' against Toronto and then New York en route to the finals, but after winning game one against Riga, they lost the next four games, and the legendary career of Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen came to a close.

 

Career Stats
576 GP | 119 G - 414 A - 533 P | + 153 | 1021 PIM | 1471 HIT | 1032 SB
Playoffs: 76 GP | 9 G - 55 A - 64 P | +14 | 132 PIM | 146 HIT | 138 SB


Although Werbenjagermanjensen retired falling short of capturing a second Continental Cup in S72, he retired a certain Hall of Famer, with career totals of 119 goals, 414 assists, and 533 points in 576 games. He was a positive +/- player in all but his rookie season (he was -1 that year), threw 1471 hits and blocked 1032 shots during his illustrious career, and he lined his trophy case with tons of year-end hardware. He may have been picked #2 in the S65 draft, but we all know that Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen was number one - and a well deserved first-ballot inductee into the VHL Hall of Fame.

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  • Head Moderator

Wow impressive HOF writing. Who the heck is tcookie?

 

Formatting is good, context summary of the seasons is good.  No pictures or graphics but we typically don't include those in HOF articles anyways so no biggy there. Everything is structured nicely. The only thing I happen to want a bit more is like a description of the type of player in the final summary rather than just the base stats but otherwise looks good.

 

9/10

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