The Pittsburgh Penguins lost a part of their farm club’s top-six, but made up for it by signing four forwards to contracts.
Trevor Smith, a 28-year-old from Ottawa, Ont., had spent the last year as an alternate captain on the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, took advantage of his free agency and signed on with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Smith, who made his pro-debut in 2006-07 as an undrafted free agent out of the NCAA’s University of New Hampshire, has spent parts of the last six seasons in the AHL. While never an elite AHL talent, Smith has parlayed his opportunities with AHL clubs into a full-time spot in 2008-09, when he played 76 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and posted 30 goals and 32 assists. Though he’s moved around quite a bit — Smith has played for Bridgeport, Syracuse, Springfield, Norfolk, and Wilkes-Barre — he’s been effective in every setting, and was given the alternate captaincy in Wilkes-Barre last season.
With the loss of Smith, the Penguins looked to fill some spots in their lineup, and did so by inking Nick Drazenovic, Bobby Farnham, and Chris Conner, all to one-year, two-way deals, and Andrew Ebbett to a two-year, two-way deal.
The biggest name of the four, Ebbett, has spent the last two seasons with the Canucks organization, but has seen his career settle into the role of transition player between the AHL and NHL. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Senators in 2006, Ebbett has since moved organizations on nearly a year-to-years basis. Since signing with Ottawa in ’06, Ebbett has played for Anaheim, Chicago, Minnesota, Phoenix, and Vancouver. In 191 NHL games, Ebbett has put up 64 points (25-39), but he’s been effective at an incredible level in the AHL. Ebbett’s 236 points (76-160) over 247 games puts him in elite AHL territory, and he is a game breaker at the minor level.
Conner, who spent time in the Penguins organization from 2009-2011, but left to sign on with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason of 2011. In his first stint with the Pens, Conner caught on with the big club, spending 60 games in the NHL in 2010-11, where he put up 16 points in a bottom six role. Conner will likely split time between the farm and the big club.