My take on Smith: He's either going to be Jimmy Howard or he's going to be Tom McCollum.
The Wings have spent an ENORMOUS amount of time, energy and effort taking a cocky, arrogant kid who got a DUI on a moped and was more or less a punk at Wisconsin and have tried to turn Captain Hot Dog into a smart, savvy, Niklas Kronwall-style defenseman.
The wonderful thing about Smith is that he's as enthusiastic as heck. The horrible thing about Smith is that he's still arrogant and he still lives in a world that's all about Brendan Smith at 25.
The Wings have yet to convince Smith that playing simple, safe hockey will in fact lead to more offense at the NHL level than being a rambling, gambling, side-and-back-passing, "It's not my job to move the puck out of trouble, it's my job to skate up the ice and play like the forward I was until I was 16" defenseman he can be far too regularly.
He's working hard and he's started to really take what the coaches and his various mentors (Chelios, Quincey, etc.) take to heart, but the problem is that the Wings have had him in the system for a couple of years now, and he's either got to get his shit together--like Howard did--or he's going to be eclipsed by a significant number of strong defensive prospects who are starting to breathe down his neck, as well as DeKeyser...
In no small part because Smith hasn't fallen off the depth chart enough that he's anything less than marketable in a trade.
Like McCollum, however--and McCollum is not an arrogant fellow, but he's still working out the game between his ears, just like Smith--Smitty hasn't seemed to get the message that he's got to just calm the hell down, stop showboating and embrace the fundamentals of the game, and I'm sure that the Wings are a little frustrated by that.