The Detroit Red Wings have signed their final restricted free agent, inking Givani Smith to a two-year contract. The deal, according to his agency, is a one-way contract that will carry an average annual value of $750K.
Smith, 23, seemed to make an impact whenever he made it into the lineup this season, though he finished the year with just four points in 16 games. The 2016 second-round pick will likely never be a top-six scoring threat, but the physicality and power he brings to the ice can be a valuable addition to the Red Wings bottom-six. He has averaged just over ten minutes of ice time through his 37 career NHL games and will once again be in a tough competition for playing time at training camp.
The Red Wings have brought in a few new names this offseason and have several top prospects that will be pushing for full-time NHL spots. Even though he did score nine goals and 15 points in 25 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins this year, the lack of real offensive upside for Smith limits the number of roles he can really fill at the NHL level. If the team decides to go a different way with the fourth line, he’ll be waiting for another injury to get his next chance in the Red Wings lineup.
Still, given he is now eligible for waivers, it probably won’t be quite the rollercoaster that 2020-21 turned out to be. Smith was involved in near-daily transactions, moved up and down from the active roster, taxi squad and minor leagues all season. If the Red Wings want to send him to the minors this time, he’ll be up for grabs to the rest of the NHL through waivers.
This contract also takes Smith to age-25, meaning he could end up a Group VI unrestricted free agent at its conclusion should he fail to play enough games.