Soon after it was announced that Cody Ceci had been awarded $4.3MM in arbitration, Gemel Smith was given his new contract. The Dallas Stars forward has been awarded a one-year one-way $720K contract. Smith had filed for $900K, while the team had responded with a two-way contract offer while also placing him on waivers a few days before the hearing. Because the deal is under the walk-away threshold, the Stars had no choice but to sign Smith to the contract—something they’re likely just fine with given Smith’s value to the club as a depth forward.
The 24-year old played in 46 games last season, and though he recorded just 11 points he’s a useful player to keep around at such a low cost. Given that he has already cleared waivers, the team may decide to try and sneak him through again just before the season and keep him in the minor leagues, but there’s no guarantee a team wouldn’t jump at the opportunity in September. Had anyone claimed Smith they would have inherited his arbitration hearing without a possibility to reschedule, something teams don’t like to do without time to prepare.
Still, Smith may find himself behind other young forwards like Remi Elie, Jason Dickinson and Roope Hintz this year. He’ll have to battle for any playing time with the NHL club, but should be able to at least be an injury replacement. Though he is scheduled to still be a restricted free agent after this season, he actually could become a Group VI UFA should he fail to play in 17 games at the NHL level. The Stars will likely want to keep his rights, meaning he’ll get at least that many.