The Dallas Stars placed depth forward Gemel Smith on waivers yesterday with the intent to assign him to their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. Although he cleared waivers earlier this offseason while undergoing contract arbitration with the Stars, the 24-year-old forward was claimed by the Boston Bruins earlier today.
The Stars waived Smith in order to make room for Martin Hanzal, who is coming off of LTIR after being cleared to play on Tuesday. Hanzal had a season-ending surgery on his spine last March, and has fought back from what many considered to be a potential career-ending injury. Hanzal is expected to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Martin Hanzal (off-season spinal surgery) returns to play Friday. Jason Spezza moves to right wing. Nichushkin and Hintz possible scratches. Ben Bishop in goal.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) December 6, 2018
A fourth round pick by the Stars in 2012, Smith joined the Texas Stars in the 2014-15 season, where he recorded 27 points in 68 games his rookie season. He had similar numbers the following season, and then split time between Dallas and Cedar Park starting in 2016 before earning a permanent spot on the NHL roster for the 2017-18 season. Smith had a total 35 G, 51 A (86 P) in 186 games with Texas and 11 G, 9 A (20 P) in 77 games with Dallas.
The Stars could have kept Smith on the roster by sending down rookie Roope Hintz to the AHL instead, as Hintz is waivers-exempt. Ultimately, the Stars’ coaching staff felt that Smith hadn’t shown enough in games and in practice to become a lineup regular, and thus he became the odd man out.
What prevented Gemel Smith from getting more playing time? Jim Montgomery: pic.twitter.com/s7OVTEZgkB— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) December 6, 2018
By choosing to keep Hintz over Smith, the Stars have once doubled down on their belief that Hintz can be a lineup regular for Dallas, just as they did when they waived Remi Elie two months ago before the start of the season. It is now up to Hitnz to prove to the Stars that they made the right decision.
We here at Defending Big D are sad to see Smith go, but wish him the best of luck in Boston.
The team is a family and it's never easy seeing someone leave.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 6, 2018
Gemel Smith says goodbye to his teammates after being claimed off waivers by the Boston Bruins this morning. pic.twitter.com/OchvtO2AKZ
Here are the lines from the Stars’ practice earlier today. Expect this to be the lineup tomorrow night as the Stars take on the Sharks at the American Airlines Center.
Full lines at practice— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 6, 2018
Hintz, Nichushkin rotating in