Since leaving Colgate the Hobey Baker finalist has been bounced back and forth between the Texas Stars and Idaho Steelheads, though mainly the latter, unable to make headway with Willie Desjardins in Cedar Park and take the steps toward the NHL we all wanted him to.
So now it seems, though no official word has been spoken, that he's chosen to set out on a new path. From his Twitter account this morning:
Starting the long journey to Pori Finland. Excited for a new opportunity and chance to play in Europe!— Austin B Smith (@MagicHatNine) December 10, 2013
His contract is up at the end of this season.
Update: The verbiage the Stars are using is 'loaned'.
The Dallas Stars have loaned RW Austin Smith to Assat of the SM-Liiga in Finland.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 10, 2013
Worley and I had the chance to speak to Smith at a development camp and I remember how excited we both were that he was here with the Stars, and that it seemed like only a matter of time before we could talk about a good kid from DFW, playing here at the NHL level.
The Stars took Smith with the 128th pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft. With the 129th, which they also owned, the took Jamie Benn. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. It's a cautionary tale, as so many prospects are. Most of them don't work out the way we hope.
Best of luck to Austin in Finland. If his game takes off there a return to North American professional hockey will follow, where the Stars should still own his rights.
From Stephen at Hundred Degree Hockey:
He made the opening roster for 2013-14 in the AHL but was demoted last week after getting into ten games and registering no points at all.
Unable to work his game here in Cedar Park and certain that he could play more of a role with an AHL club, Smith was stuck. It wouldn't be surprising to me if he asked to be re-assigned or traded elsewhere in the AHL and was unsuccessful in that request. Dallas has done that before with players such as Ray Sawada (IceCaps), Mathieu Tousignant (IceCaps) and Carl Sneep (Rivermen). This seems to be a compromise between reassigning him inside the AHL and saying no outright.
Read Stephen's entire reaction here at Hundred Degree Hockey.
Finnish source on this: http://www.jatkoaika.com/Uutiset/austin-smith-ässiin/153044
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