Less than 12 hours after winning his first Calder Cup as captain of the Toronto Marlies, Ben Smith has decided to take his talents to Europe. The veteran center has signed a three-year deal with Adler Mannheim of the German DEL.
Smith, 29, has done it all in North America, winning an NCAA Championship, Stanley Cup and now a Calder Cup. Usually limited to fourth-line duties while in the NHL, he has 237 games under his belt and set a career-high in points with 26 in the 2013-14 season. His AHL numbers however have always been much better, and he was arguably the Marlies’ best all-around forward for the entire season. Scoring 59 points in 74 games, he played with revolving linemates and contributed in all situations, leading the team in goals and points.
It’s interesting that he would sign a three-year deal in Europe, given the fact that he could likely find another two-way deal somewhere in the league. Perhaps the Maple Leafs made it clear it wouldn’t be with them—although, the organization has a distinct lack of center options at the moment—and Smith wanted the security of a multi-year contract. He’ll get that security, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him find immediate success in the DEL. Smith is a versatile player and easily morphs his game to fit the team’s needs.