In a bid to shore up the depth for next season, the Ottawa Senators have recruited SHL forward Jiri Smejkai to North America, signing him to a one-year entry-level contract.
Smejkai was undrafted in the NHL and has jumped around European leagues so far in his career, most recently playing with Oaskarshamn IK of the SHL, and he managed 23 goals and 20 assists for 43 points in 52 regular season games. He was third in team scoring.
Smejkai has not played on north american ice since his junior days when he played in the WHL. He has represented his national team of the Czech Republic on three separate occasions. At the World Juniors, at the World Cup, and during the Olympics. It is expected that he will again represent his country this coming world cup.
Pierre Dorion mentioned, “Jiri’s signing is a good addition for us; it improves our depth and provides us with an additional bottom-six option at forward.”
Essentially, it can be expected that Jiri Smejkai will slot somewhere in the bottom 6. I’m willing to bet he will start the season as the 13th forward, a bit similar to how Artem Zub started his first season with the Ottawa Senators as their 7th defenseman, and after earning head coach DJ Smith’s trust, became a mainstay in the lineup. I see Smejkai as a great fourth-line option, on the left side.
I think his speed will be a great tool to inject into the team’s bottom 6, and I think his best role would be on the team’s fourth line. I think a realistic expectation in terms of production would be 10 goals and 15 assists. I could see him being on this line:
Jiri Smejkai – Mark Kastelic – Julien Gauthier
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Altogether, I’m happy with this signing. I’m not saying he’s going to be a Hall of Famer or anything like that but this signing is a perfect low-risk high-reward situation and I’m excited to see him on the ice.