Jerred Smithson to the rescue?
With two key centres lost to injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Smithson to a one-year deal late Wednesday afternoon, promoting him from the Toronto Marlies where he had been playing on a pro tryout deal.
To make room for Smithson, they returned Trevor Smith to the Marlies.
Smithson, 34, isn’t going to wow anyone with his finesse, but he is big (6-foot-3 and 210 pounds) has played nearly 600 NHL games, can win faceoffs and has played a lot on the penalty kill in the past.
With both Dave Bolland (lacerated tendon in ankle) and Tyler Bozak (hamstring strain) out long term, however, the Leafs are desperate for bodies that can fill those kinds of minutes.
Expect him to slot in on Toronto’s fourth line between Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr beginning on Friday against the New Jersey Devils.
Most of Smithson’s career was spent with the Nashville Predators, where he became a Barry Trotz favourite as a big centre who was good in the dressing room and willing to fill a checking role.
"He comes to work every game, and he gives you those intangible type of minutes," Trotz told The Tennessean newspaper back in 2011.
His numbers have tailed off sharply in recent years and he’s bounced around, playing in both Florida and Edmonton the past two seasons. Possession wise, he won’t help the Leafs, as he has been in the red there in soft minutes in recent years.
Where he’ll be an upgrade on Smith is in the faceoff circle, as he typically wins 55 per cent or more of his draws, something that will earn brownie points with coach Randy Carlyle.
The best comparison of his game is probably to that of former Leaf David Steckel, who Carlyle used plenty when he first came to Toronto.