Right off the top this trade is a strong indication that Patric Hornqvist
has received clearance to return to the lineup. It also indicates David Poile intends to be aggressive heading into the Trade Deadline. With Hornqvist and McGrattan both on the verge of returning the Preds would have 14 forwards – two more than they can dress for a game; adding additional forwards would have made for a crowded locker room and would have made it difficult for players to get into game rhythm. Now at 13 forwards it is easier for Poile to add a forward before the Deadline --- if the right fit presents itself --- and not disrupt the locker room.
As for Hornqvist, it seems very likely he will be back in the lineup tomorrow night vs. San Jose. The Preds had 12 healthy forwards for last night’s game against St. Louis; Hornqvist’s return – had the Preds kept Smithson -- would have given the Preds 13 forwards, pushing one out of the lineup. Apparently Smithson was going to be targeted as the odd man out. The development of young forwards like Nick Spaling
and Craig Smith
at center moved Smithson to the wing. The play of Gabriel Bourque
, Matt Halischuk
, Jordin Tootoo
, Colin Wilson
and Brandon Yip
in the two-way winger role made it tougher for Smithson to force his way into the lineup. And more reinforcements are on the way in Milwaukee with Chris Mueller
and Kyle Wilson
along with emerging first-year pros Taylor Beck
and Micheal Latta.
“Jerred has done so much for our franchise,” Preds GM David Poile said. “He’s one of the longest tenured players in our history. He was part of that group of players who helped bring us from expansion team into a competitive era. Obviously he’s been a big part of our playoff success in recent years and in my mind scored arguably as important goal as any in franchise history – that overtime winner at Anaheim in Game 5. His role has started to diminish more this year with a lot of the younger players doing some of the same things – Spaling playing center ice, Smith playing a lot of center ice; guys killing penalties like Bourque and Halischuk and Spaling. I think we’re helping Jerred and putting him in a better place in his career and at the same time we’re offering an opportunity and a challenge to our existing players that they can now play a little bigger role here.”