The Toronto Maple Leafs opted not to bring depth forward Ben Smith back into their system this summer, following his arrival with the team at the 2016 trade deadline in the deal for goaltender James Reimer.
Now, though, he’s finally secured himself a deal for next year – and he’s heading back to the states with it.
The Colorado Avalanche confirmed on Tuesday morning that Smith, who finished his 2015-16 season with two goals and six points in a collective 22 regular season NHL games, has inked a one year deal with the club. Per General Fanager, the contract is two-way in nature, and will pay out $675,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level.
Once this deal is up, Smith will once again be an unrestricted free agent.
Drafted 169th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Smith – a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina – played for Boston College in the NCAA before going pro with Chicago in the spring of 2010.
Since then, he has played up and down between the NHL and AHL levels, recording 27 goals and 50 points in 197 career NHL games between Chicago, Toronto, and the San Jose Sharks. He is a much higher point producer at the AHL level, though, which may be where the Avalanche ultimately opt to keep him once he arrives with the club this fall.
There isn’t much reason to believe that Smith will be anything but a depth option that predominantly plays in the minors, but for a cheap price, this is a convenient pickup for the Avalanche. After losing the bulk of their top-scoring AHL talent over the summer to Europe, he should help replenish the team’s farm system moving forward.