Reilly Smith Filling In Admirably For Boston Bruins During Loui Eriksson’s Absense
Reilly Smith is currently outproducing every Boston Bruin outside of David Krejci whose 27 assists have him sitting at 36 points, five ahead of Smith’s 31 points. Though Smith is not leading the team in scoring, I would say that he is probably sitting about where Boston hoped Loui Eriksson would be at this point in the season.
Smith’s point scoring pace projects to about 60 points at the end of the year. Any full season that Eriksson has had since the 2008-9 season has produced at least 60 points, including three straight 70-plus point campaigns. Eriksson is a very consistent performer at the NHL level, and his injury definitely affected the Bruins.
Smith is outscoring his teammates Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron, all of whom are more experienced, talented and strong than he is. However, he appears to be just as hard working as any of his other teammates. His presence as a grinding winger has been something to watch.
Considering the company he is in at the top of the team in scoring, I would venture to guess that Smith has obviously produced well beyond the expectations that the Bruins had for him. He had only nine points in a shortened season for the Stars last year, and this year he has a shot at scoring 30 goals.
Smith’s 14 goals put him just in front of Iginla (13) and Lucic (12) for the Bruins’ goal-scoring lead. He is able to create offense from wrist shots, slap shots, deflections, and tap-ins. Smith is a dynamic scorer who may end up leading Boston in goals this year regardless of when Eriksson returns to play.
Smith was a third round draft pick who was highly regarded by some scouts coming out of Miami (Ohio) University as an excellent, gritty winger. He was traded as a part of the package deal that saw Eriksson come to Boston in exchange for Tyler Seguin (who has excelled in Dallas) and Rich Peverley (not so much).
I do not think that any of his scouts could have predicted this type of NHL-upside. Smith has done all that he can to make sure that the Bruins keep their position atop the Atlantic Division. They are currently being challenged by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs for the division crown and will need Reilly to keep producing.
Smith is also responsible defensively and leads on both ends of the ice with responsible two-way play. Boston’s forecheck is very much depending on wingers like Smith to be able to create offense and know when to pursue a play as opposed to waiting for the play to develop.
Smith is adept at dump-and-chase as well as carrying the puck into the zone and making plays. As good a finisher as he is a play maker, he is often able to use his well-developed hockey IQ to make something out of a seemingly innocent play. His play is definitely something that will lead to a big payday in the near future. I am hopeful that the Bruins will be able to lock him up for a few years and continue to take advantage of his strong play.