Smolianinov was an unknown 17-year-old found by Lightning scouts in a remote part of Siberia. He was convinced by the Lightning to opt into the draft, rather than waiting another year, and was taken in the final round of the 2001 draft by then General Manager Rick Dudley.
Dudley, who bragged about finding prospects Smolianinov, Solarev and Bezrukov at a Siberian tournament that drew only Lightning scouts, had a preference for Russian players and Smolianinov is a big body with moderate skills. He has not rewarded Tampa Bay for drafting him as he’s failed to advance to the RSL since his draft year and struggles to gain playing time in the Russian minors. Once thought to be a “find,” he’s turned out to be nothing to brag about.
A decent playmaker with good hands and size. Has good vision of the ice.