After losing Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland for an extended period of time, the Maple Leafs have found their (short term) savior at centre as they have signed veteran Jerred Smithson. Smithson was already on a PTO with the Toronto Marlies.
Smithson, who is now 34 years old, has played 588 career games and amassed 96 points (39-57) and 354 penalty minutes. Smithson has played the majority of his NHL career with the Nashville Predators (7 seasons), but has also spent time with the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers, and 10 games for the Edmonton Oilers. Smithson is obviously not a point producer. His biggest strength is his face-off ability. In every season for the Predators, Smithson’s face-off percentage has never been under 50%. In fact, his lowest total was 52.1% in 2007-2008. His most impressive face-off season was in 2010-2011 when he took 1,006 face-offs (most on the Predators that year) and won 57.5% of them.
It is clear the Maple Leafs aren’t going to use Smithson in an offensive role (or, at least I hope they don’t.) He should probably be nothing more than a fourth-line player who specializes in face-offs. So, essentially, a worse version of Jay McClement. The Leafs also sent down Trevor Smith today, who is also a centre. To me, Smith would have been a pretty effective option on the third line and would keep McClement on the fourth line. It’s still unclear as to who will be the second line centre for the Maple Leafs. The speculation has been that James van Riemsdyk would slide down from the first line and fill the void, but we will see what Randy Carlyle chooses to do. The next game is Friday against the New Jersey Devils.
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