Smejkal, 27, had spent his entire professional career in Europe until this season. The hulking 6-foot-4 Czech winger does have some experience playing on North American ice, though, playing his final two seasons of junior hockey in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Kamloops Blazers.
He’s played for a variety of European clubs after going unselected in multiple NHL drafts but didn’t really break out as an elite talent until the last two seasons. He produced over a point per game with Pelicans in the Finnish Liiga in 2021-22 and followed that up with 43 points in 49 games with the SHL’s IK Oskarshamn last season. Alongside three straight World Championship appearances with Czechia, he drew enough NHL interest to earn a one-year, two-way pact from Ottawa.
Although the GM who brought him to Canada, Pierre Dorion, is no longer with the team, new management has obviously liked what they’ve seen from Smejkal thus far in Belleville. He’s posted three goals and nine points in 17 AHL games after rumors swirled he would return to Europe after not cracking the Senators roster out of camp.
Smejkal is now one of 13 healthy forwards on the Senators roster and could challenge to make his NHL debut tomorrow against the Red Wings. The natural winger could slot in for 27-year-old Zack MacEwen on the team’s fourth line. MacEwen has played ten games, registering one assist and averaging a paltry 4:45 per contest after signing a three-year, $2.325MM contract with Ottawa in free agency last summer.