The Leafs exercised their AHL-assigning muscles today, placing forward Ben Smith on waivers with the likes of Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Peter Holland, and Leo Komarov nearing return from injury. The 27-year-old played fairly well in a fourth-line role for the team, putting up 2 goals and 4 assists in 16 games. He was acquired in the deal that sent James Reimer to San Jose.
There’s not a whole lot to discuss about this move. I think the most interesting part about it is that the team was able to put Smith on waivers in spite of the fact that they currently have a player who’s only up on the roster as an emergency recall (that player being Connor Brown). The fact that the Leafs were able to put a player who’s “legitimately” on the team and who has no future with the team, on waivers for a young guy who’s earned more playing time in the NHL, is some impressive CBA maneuvering. But those are the sorts of moves we’ve come to expect from the Leafs given that their GM is a guy nicknamed Loophole Lou. And of course, they also have the NHL’s former resident CBA expert, Brandon Pridham, as an assistant GM.
So as for Smith, yeah, he’s actually a reasonably useful player. But he’s 27 and on an expiring contract and the Leafs likely can and will do better as far as filling depth roles on the team moving forward. So as should be no real surprise, I wouldn’t expect the team to re-sign him. For the mean time, he figures to join the Marlies and add to a team that’s already incredibly deep, especially when half their roster isn’t up with the big club. Hopefully he can bring some of that same playoff magic to the Marlies that he was formerly known to bring with the Blackhawks en route to some of their recent championships.
Oh, and shout-out to former Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens, who was also placed on waivers today. Go Habs Go!