The Ottawa Senators announced the signing of undrafted Czech forward Jiří Smejkal to a one-year, entry-level contract Friday morning. The 26-year-old, who spent the last seven seasons playing in top professional leagues around Europe, brings an intriguing mix of size and skill to the Senators organization.
Smejkal, who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 223 pounds, could crack the Senators’ bottom six out of training camp next season. In the release announcing the news, general manager Pierre Dorion expressed excitement about the impact Smejkal could have on the team.
Jiří’s signing is a good addition for us; it improves our depth and provides us with an additional bottom-six option at forward. He’s a big body who’s strong with previous experience playing in North America which should help his transition to a rink with smaller dimensions. We’re pleased that he’s committed to the Senators for the next step in his career.
The North American experience Dorion is referencing came in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, when Smejkal played junior hockey with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and Kamloops Blazers. In 130 games, he recorded 17 goals and 42 assists for 59 points, 102 penalty minutes, and a -25 rating.
In the past two seasons, Smekjal was a standout performer in the Finnish Liiga with Pelicans and in the SHL with IK Oskarshamn, where he recorded a combined 48 goals and 40 assists for 93 points across the two leagues. He also represented Czechia at the 2021 and 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championships, registering three goals and four assists in 18 games.
While Smejkal’s recent goal-scoring production is impressive, his size and physicality could be even more valuable to the Senators in a checking role. With his ability to play a power-forward style of game, he could provide a needed presence in front of the net and in board battles. His point production overseas suggests he’ll bring enough offensive IQ to avoid being a liability on the ice.
Smejkal, who can play left wing and center, is a classic low-risk, high-reward acquisition, especially at a one-year term. Per CapFriendly, Smejkal will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
Another body to protect Debrincat.