The Boston Bruins have added some depth to their forward group, today claiming Gemel Smith off waivers from the Dallas Stars. Smith was the odd man out in Dallas now that Roope Hintz has established himself as a full-time player and Martin Hanzal is returning to the lineup.
It’s not hard to understand why the Bruins claimed Smith, given the struggles of their bottom six this season. The team went out this offseason and added Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom to replace some of their outgoing talent, but the pair has combined for just eight points on the year. Add that to the fact that David Backes is a shadow of his former self and young players like Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato have seemingly taken a step backwards and you have a clear picture of top-heavy situation in Boston. Only five forwards have more than 10 points on the season, and even David Krejci’s 19 includes just two goals.
To be sure, Smith isn’t some sort of offensive dynamo that will be the cure to everything that ails the Bruins. In fact he only has 20 points in 77 career games, and was never an elite scoring threat in junior or the minor leagues. What he does bring though is a consistent two-way effort every night that can chip in a goal now and then, while providing some positional versatility. Smith has a history at the center position, though he has rarely gotten the opportunity to play there in Dallas.
It’s not a home run for the Bruins, but another swing for a team that has yet to find much consistency in the bottom part of their lineup. Add in that Smith is just 24, is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and costs only $720K this season, and it’s easy to see why the claim was made.