The 24-year-old Smith was picked 46th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2016 and appeared as if he had finally cracked the NHL last season when he played 46 games. After adding several players through free agency, though, the Red Wings didn’t have room for the fourth liner and have put him mostly in the minor leagues this year.
In two games with Detroit this season, Smith failed to score and saw just 25 total shifts. The 6’2″ winger will get another chance to add impose his size and strength on opponents tonight, as he draws in against the New York Islanders for what should be a physical battle.
The Panthers, losers of two in a row and six of their last ten, haven’t been able to come anywhere near the Presidents’ Trophy-winning club from a year ago. Smith certainly won’t add to the missing offense – he has just 14 points in 85 career games – but can add some of the energy and snarl that players like Mason Marchment and MacKenzie Weegar had for the Panthers in 2021-22.