The Penguins have taken care of one of their restricted free agents, announcing the re-signing of defenseman Ty Smith to a one-year contract. It’s a one-way agreement worth the NHL minimum of $775K meaning that the blueliner took less than his qualifying offer to get a guaranteed salary.
Smith’s stock certainly dipped last season. After being a regular with New Jersey in 2021-22, he was moved to Pittsburgh last summer in the John Marino trade. However, he was still waiver-exempt last season, resulting in him spending most of the year in the minors with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The 23-year-old played in 39 contests in the minors in 2022-23, picking up seven goals and 17 assists. It was his first taste of AHL action as he had exclusively been on New Jersey’s roster in his first two professional seasons. Smith did get into nine games with Pittsburgh where he was relatively productive with a goal and three assists while logging over 20 minutes a night.
Now waiver-eligible, Smith should be a full-timer on Pittsburgh’s roster for the upcoming season as it’s quite unlikely that he would get through waivers. However, with six regulars returning plus the addition of Ryan Graves, locking down a full-time spot in the lineup could be a challenge for Smith early on.
The Penguins have three remaining restricted free agents although two of those (Filip Lindberg and Filip Hallander) have already signed overseas. The other one is forward Drew O’Connor whose salary arbitration hearing is scheduled for August 4th.