From a PTO with the Marlies to a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs, the Leafs have signed 34-year-old Jerred Smithson for the remainder of the season in hopes of wallpapering over the drywall hole at center ice with Bolland and Bozak out.
With only Jay McClement above 45% in the faceoff circle among available centers, the Leafs have seemingly opted for JvR, Kadri, McClement and Smithson down the middle (for the time being). Trevor Smith has been sent down to the Marlies. Smith played about 5 minutes a night for Carlyle, was below 43% in the circle, and the Marlies captain was one game away from becoming waiver eligible. If Smithson proves he can be a responsible defensive player with an ability to win faceoffs, he could earn more trust and ice time. He may also become a penalty killing option with Bolland out; Smithson averaged 1:57 per game on the PK for Florida last season.
Are the Leafs any better off? I don’t know, but Smithson is one more option for Carlyle as the Leafs try to survive the difficult situation at center ice. It costs them no assets so it seems worth finding out if he can help.
Smithson is best known for his faceoff prowess, where he ranked 13th in the NHL (55.4%) last season. He has finished as high as sixth overall in the category (57.4% in 2010-11). The BC native was signed to a PTO by the Marlies on October 16, posting one goal over seven games since.
Once a favourite of Barry Trotz’s, Smithson has apparently lost a step with age and isn’t the best of skaters, nor does he own anything in the way of offensive skills. Smithson went undrafted, was signed by LA in 2000, and made his career out of being a responsible defensive player in Nashville. He does have size at 6’3, finishes hits (86 hits in 35 games last season), and is capable of playing all three forward positions. Down the road, if he doesn’t look out of place, the Leafs would have the option of keeping him around on the wing and using him for faceoffs.
Leafs see Smithson as smart, physical player who can fit on 4th line, kill penalties. Earned a fan in Steve Spott with Marlies.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) November 6, 2013
Said Trotz of Smithson:
“Jerred brought a lot to the locker room,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “If you look at stats, they are really for losers. He brings a lot of intangibles to a room – character guy, real pro, worked at his game. … He’s one of my favorites. He’s one of those guys that you love having around. Our team has evolved and therefore his role is being a little bit diminished, and more guys are taking on that role.
Smithson, 34, instantly becomes the oldest member on the Leafs, but based on appearances alone he is no greybeard (can he even grow a beard?):