Edmonton Oilers acquire centre Jerred Smithson from Florida Panthers
Fourth-round pick sent to Florida in return for faceoff man
J Pat Carter/The Associated Press Florida Panthers’ Shawn Matthias (18) and Jerred Smithson (25) celebrate after Mike Santorelli (13) scored against the Winnipeg Jets in Sunrise, Fla., on March 5.
Photograph by: J Pat Carter, AP
Calgary — Over the course of the next few days, Jerred Smithson will welcome his first child into the world, then he’ll slip into an Edmonton Oilers jersey for the first time.
Punch-drunk? Just a little.
Smithson, a six-foot-three, 209-pound centre, was dealt from the 29th-place Florida Panthers to the Oilers at the trade deadline Wednesday for a fourth-round draft pick.
“As you probably know, I have a lot going on right now. We’re heading to the hospital tonight (Wednesday) and hopefully she’ll deliver tomorrow,” Smithson said. “So I was definitely shocked when I heard, but then I started to look forward to it. “Without a doubt, this is a team that’s moving in the right direction.”
Smithson will give the Oilers depth on the fourth line and the penalty kill, and he’ll boost the team’s faceoff percentage. It was the lone deal Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini made on trade deadline day, leaving the team otherwise intact.
The Oilers are pushing to secure a playoff spot before they close out the regular season against the Vancouver Canucks on April 27.
The 34-year-old Smithson will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He won’t cost the Oilers much, his contract is just $800,000 and it will be pro-rated over the remaining 13 games.
“I was definitely shocked. I really enjoyed my time here in Florida, but I had a feeling I might be traded,” he said during a phone interview. “And once I had time to think about it and everything started to settle down, I really started to look forward to it. I love the direction this team is heading.
“There’s nothing better than being in that playoff push and there’s so much talent on that team.”
The Oilers had seen plenty of Smithson when he was with the Nashville Predators from 2005-12. He was shipped to the Panthers during the 2012 trade deadline. Through 34 games this campaign, he has five points, including two goals, and was 54.8 per cent in the faceoff circle. The native of Vernon, B.C., has 38 goals and 57 assists in 578 career NHL games.
He spent his junior career with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen through the 1999-2000 season, and went undrafted, but turned pro with the Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League in 2000.
Smithson signed his first NHL contract with the Los Angeles Kings in 2001, spending much of his time with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. The Oilers have been without Eric Belanger, their top faceoff man, since March 26. Prior to that, he missed five games with a groin injury.
“He’s great in the faceoff circle and an extremely simple hockey player, which is effective in a lot of systems. He’ll complement the team, for sure,” said Oilers winger Ryan Jones, who played with Smithson in Nashville. “Any time you can get a guy who’s played a lot of games in the league and has some playoff experience, it’s a benefit. He will give us some leadership down the stretch. We don’t have too many guys here who have experienced the push to the playoffs.”
Smithson isn’t expected to join the team before Saturday’s game against the Kings in L.A.
“He’s a defensive centreman who brings size and depth into our group that we can use,” said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger. “It’s a good acquisition for our organization.”
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