When forward Trevor Smith became an unrestricted free agent this past summer, he had a tough decision to make regarding his future.
But when the Pittsburgh Penguins called him, that decision became pretty easy. After consulting with the members of the Penguins staff, including head coach Dan Bylsma, and his family, Smith inked his name on a one-year contract with the Penguins.
“My family and I felt it would be the best fit,” Smith said. “That’s all you can hope for when you come in. So far it’s been unreal with the management, organization and players. It’s a top-notch organization.
“I like their style of play. I like the aggressiveness of the forecheck. I thought I would be a perfect fit for this organization. I’m glad this was my decision and I’m happy to be here.”
Smith, 27, has opened the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. And from Day 1 he’s been impressed with the team’s facility at Coal Street and the organization.
“I was really surprised walking in here,” he said. “One of the equipment guys took me in and showed me around. It blew me away. I had no idea this facility was here. It’s NHL (caliber) for sure. They really take care of the players here. It’s really a breath of fresh air.”
Smith was also impressed with the unity between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“With what they’ve been talking about here with (head coaches) Dan (Bylsma) and (John) Hynes, system-wise they are making it easy to develop the players and making it an easier step to go from the AHL to the NHL,” Smith said. “The systems are all the same. The faceoff plays are the same language. You are not stepping into a new team, new ice surface being nervous what the systems are. They’re making it an easy transition for the guys and that’s a smart way to go.”
Smith, who has played in 23 NHL and 347 AHL games in his career, will provide a veteran leadership presence to the WBS lineup. The playmaking power forward is also a winner.
Smith (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) raised the Calder Cup, the AHL’s championship trophy, last season as a member of the Norfolk Admirals. And Smith was a key contributor to the team’s title run. He finished sixth in the AHL in scoring with 69 points (26G-43A) in 64 contests and tied for the postseason scoring title on five goals and 16 points.
“That was an unbelievable season. It was a lot of fun,” he said. “We had a good group there as well. We went on a nice little streak towards the end. We had a lot of confidence. We took that into the postseason. Hopefully we can get that same feeling here and bring some of that energy to this club and make that run.”
And that is exactly Smith’s goal for the upcoming season.
“You start every year wanting to win a championship,” he said. “I know this team has made the playoffs the last few years. They’ve made decent runs. I think this could be one of those years. We’ve got a great group and it feels really good. We are meshing and getting the system down. A few tweaks from last season and I think we can take it far in the playoffs.”