The Dallas Stars have made a move up front to create some room for the imminent return of Martin Hanzal, placing Gemel Smith on waivers today according to Sean Shapiro of The Athletic. Shapiro tweeted yesterday that the Stars were making a decision between sending Roope Hintz back to the AHL or waiving Smith, and they’ve now apparently chose the latter option.
Smith, 24, has played 77 games with the Stars since the beginning of the 2016-17 season but hasn’t been able to establish himself as the consistent bottom-six option many believed he could be. The fourth-round pick has 11 goals and 20 points in those 77 games, but has been played so sparingly that it’s not surprising to see him on the way out. There is some reason to believe he could be claimed, given his relative youth and inexpensive contract—Smith carries just a $720K cap hit—but given that he already cleared waivers in the offseason the more likely result is he will be sent to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Interestingly, if Smith does make it through to the minor leagues and spends the rest of the season there the Stars will likely be sacrificing him as an asset altogether. Turning 25 in April, Smith will be eligible for Group VI unrestricted free agency after this season if he fails to play in another three NHL games. Even if he does get into another few games, the fact that he has been passed over on the Stars depth chart and is arbitration eligible once again makes him a candidate to go unqualified by the team in the offseason anyway.