Trevor Smith did the type of thing every team wishes their depth players could do when he bought the Toronto Maple Leafs time while the team was severely shorthanded.
After a month of fourth-line minutes where he only played a combined 40 minutes in eight games, Smith was sent to the minors at the beginning of November. After two weeks and a combination of injuries and suspensions left the team desperately needing centers, Smith was recalled and he quickly made an impact.
Nearly doubling his total-season ice time in his first two games back in the NHL, Smith has been impressive recording at least one point in his last three games while playing a combined 53:35 minutes in those contests. With Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland out of the lineup with injuries, and Nazem Kadri serving a three-game suspension, Smith provided quality minutes at the center position and easily played the best hockey of his career.
The journeyman center, playing on his third team in as many years, managed to set a career-high in points for a season thanks to his performance in the past three games. Smith now has six points in 12 games this season with Toronto, making it one point better than his previous career-high of five points in 16 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2011-12 season.
The offense the Maple Leafs depend on Kadri to provide the club was surprisingly being provided by Smith during Kadri’s suspension as Smith was playing regular minutes as the first or second-line center. He potentially had the best game of his career in Toronto’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders when he recorded a goal and two assists.
Now with Kadri set to return to the line-up having served his suspension and Bozak likely only a game or two away from returning as well, Smith’s status with the club is unclear. After stepping up when the opportunity arrived, it wouldn’t’ be surprising if Smith hangs around with the Maple Leafs when the centers return. He was a big piece to the team being able to keep their head above water while shorthanded and coach Randy Carlyle won’t forget that.
Smith will likely eventually find himself in the minors again at some point, but at least Toronto knows they have quality depth in the organization if they ever need it. Smith has proven to be the exact type of player coaches love to have in their back pockets when injuries occur in the playoffs.