Calgary, AB -- The Flames saw many newcomers into the organization this year due to injury and defenseman Derek Smith was on that list.
Going back and forth between the NHL and minors while with Ottawa, Smith feels he finally has a place here Calgary.
“It’s exciting, I’ve been up and down in the minors and couldn’t really find a home in the NHL in Ottawa,” said Smith.
“Things worked out here and I got a good opportunity to play and just tried to make the most of it.”
Signed to Calgary as a free agent on a two-way contract worth $700,000 it was this year when Mark Giordano went out with a hamstring injury that Smith was able to step up.
“I spent a few years in the minors and it was a long road but Calgary is home now and I’m definitely excited to establish myself here,” said Smith.
“I’m looking forward to next year.”
In a season filled with injury Smith was among the younger players who stepped into their roles and fit well where they were needed.
It was for his ability to step up and perform in the clutch that Smith was re-signed to a two year contract worth $1.55-million earlier this year.
Signing a contract has not made Smith comfortable in his spot as he feels next year is his chance to excel and show exactly how good he can be in the NHL.
“It’s exciting for us younger guys and we’re looking forward to moving forward,” said Smith.
“I got to come into camp next year and be hungry. Come in with the same mindset as I did this year, to impress and hopefully just keep working my way up the depth chart.”
When asked about the young players that came in this season Smith had only positives to say about the team in general.
“There are a couple new guys this year, some guys who came up from the minors and did a good job,” said Smith.
“Change is good but you got a lot of veterans here that did a good job this year and they’re great leaders.”
Like many players this season Smith had some issues late in the season with injury after first a high ankle sprain and later a puck incident in Colorado.
“I got hit in the face with a puck and since then everything hasn’t been feeling that good so it’s just taking it day by day now and trying to get better,” said Smith.
“Right not it’s just taking time and resting. Making sure everything is 100%. When the summer gets going I can start doing some activity and stuff, I feel 100% there’s going to be no setbacks.”
After a season filled with injuries and lots of players going to free agency there is sure to be lots of changes in the off season but Smith feels confident they’ll be prepared.
“We’re not sure what’s going to happen, that’s up to management. Whatever they decide we’re going to be ready for next year.”