The Toronto Maple Leafs have cashed in on their first rental chip of the deadline season, sending Shawn Matthias to Colorado for a fourth round draft pick in 2016 and 22-year-old San Antonio Rampage center Colin Smith.

Matthias had recently helped Leafs management’s cause by returning from injury and scoring last night against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving him three points in his last four games.

That said, Matthias (six goals and 17 points in 51 games) didn’t have the season some were hoping for after 18 goals in Vancouver last year, which is reflected in the return, but there’s nothing to be critical about with these types of deals; it’s pretty much all gravy. Even if it’s a fourth rounder and a long-shot prospect, the Leafs continue to, in essence, buy futures for nothing but cash by converting rental signings into picks and prospects.

Not retaining on their most expensive rental signing ($2.3 million) of the summer is crucial, leaving the third retention slot open for other potential moves, having retained on the Kessel deal (six more years) and the Carl Gunnarsson deal (final year).

The Leafs also open up around $605,000 in cap space the rest of the season, giving them some more space to take money back in other deals over the next eight days.

The key part of the trade is that the Leafs now own 12 picks for the 2016 Draft — the most of any NHL team — continuing to improve their odds of acquiring quality NHL assets through the draft. Operation “Picks for Hunts” is chugging along nicely.

Maple Leafs 2016 DRAFT Picks:
– Two first-round picks (assuming Penguins hold onto  playoff spot)
– one second-round pick
– two third-round picks
– two fourth-round picks
– two fifth-round picks
– two sixth-round picks
– one seventh round pick
Total = 12


Acquired: Colin Smith

Smith, a former seven round draft choice of the Avalanche in 2012, is in his third professional season in the AHL. He set career highs already this season in San Antonio with 13 goals and 34 points in 54 games.

The 5’10, 175-pound center was the 20th-from-last pick in 2012, coming off an 85-point season for Kamloops of the WHL. He raised his stock the next season with a 41-goal, 106-point campaign, finishing tied for fourth in WHL scoring in his plus-one year.

After two 30-35 point seasons in the AHL (34 in 76 in his rookie year, 31 in 53 in his second professional season), he’s currently playing out the final year of his entry-level contract, meaning he becomes an RFA at season’s end.

BSN Denver ranked Smith 20th out of 25 in their Top 25 Under 25 series on the Avalanche last Spring, writing the following:

Smith and Bourke epitomize the draft mentality of former head scout Rick Pracey, who loved targeting players who made up for their diminutive physical size with a bounty of tenaciousness and talent. For better or worse, the Avalanche now of plenty of players in their system who fit this profile.

Smith’s biggest question mark is always going to be his 5’10” and 175 pound frame. He has proven himself a capable point producer at the AHL level, some of those points of the highlight-reel variety, and his on-ice motor has never been an issue. He saw very limited NHL action last season as an injury call-up, but looked overwhelmed in his handful of shifts.

The thinking here from the Avalanche side of things is that they were right up against contract limit and needed to ship a Standard Player Contract back to the Leafs to facilitate the acquisition of Matthias.  Smith might still be facing long odds to become an everyday NHLer, but in the short term he should further shore up the center depth of the powerhouse Marlies as they chase the Calder Cup.

Colin Smith Scouting Report

Courtesy of The Forecaster:

Assets: Is quite adept at setting up linemates and is a deft passer. Also plays with plenty of passion and a bit of an edge to his game, which adds overall value.
Flaws: Is not of ideal size for the National Hockey League, so he needs to continue to get stronger physically and work on his play when he doesn’t have the puck.
Career Potential: Depth playmaker with a little upside.

Colin Smith Statistics

2006-2007CAC Canadians Bantam AAAAMBHL302437618
2007-2008CAC Canadians Bantam AAAAMBHL33367010628
2008-2009CAC Edmonton Canadians Mdgt AAAAMHL3423325510
Kamloops BlazersWHL80444
2009-2010Kamloops BlazersWHL485212646
Canada Pacific U17WHC-1751344
2010-2011Kamloops BlazersWHL7221295061
Canada U18WJC-18721314
2011-2012Kamloops BlazersWHL7235508551
2012-2013Kamloops BlazersWHL72416510672
WHL All-StarsJr Super Series10112
2013-2014Lake Erie MonstersAHL768263466
2014-2015Colorado AvalancheNHL10000
Lake Erie MonstersAHL5312193122
2015-2016San Antonio RampageAHL5413213433
Toronto MarliesAHL-----