Colin Smith has only played at the Mohegan Sun Arena once in his four-year pro career.
Smith was a member of the Toronto Marlies when they came to town on Nov. 11, 2016. He didn’t register a point as the Marlies beat the Penguins 3-0, but Smith said the game was a significant part of his season.
“That was a benchmark game because there was a lot of respect for the team we were playing,” Smith said, noting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s run as a perennial top team int he AHL. “We wanted to play well because we knew what we were up against.”
Now, Smith will help the Penguins continue that success after signing a one-year AHL deal with the team this summer. The chance to join an AHL powerhouse in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a Pittsburgh organization that has won back-to-back Stanley Cups was something that Smith couldn’t pass up, even it it meant an AHL deal.
“I always had a lot of respect and appreciation for the way they play and develop players,” he said. “I’m really excited to go to a place that wants to help you take that next step.”
Smith, who was Colorado’s seventh round pick in 2012, has never failed to reach the 30-point plateau, and is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he earned more than 40 points. In his AHL career, Smith has posted 54 goals and 114 assists for 168 points in 279 games with the San Antonio Rampage, Toronto Marlies and Lake Erie Monsters.
Smith, 24, split his last season between Toronto and San Antonio. In the first half of the year, he served as an alternate captain with the Marlies and put up eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points in 52 games. Smith was traded to the Rampage at the NHL trade deadline on March 1. He then earned six goals and 13 assists for 19 points in 21 games in San Antonio, giving him 47 total points on the season.
Smith’s move from Toronto to San Antonio was the reverse of what occurred the season before when he began the season with the Rampage and was moved to the Marlies at the trade deadline.
“It was a little crazy last year getting traded back. The start of the season wasn’t what I hoped for, but the going back to San Antonio I found my game,” Smith said.
He describes his game as a high-energy, playmaking center adding speed is his strength. Smith feels his style will fit well with the system used by the Pittsburgh organization and he hopes to become a more complete player and get back to the NHL. Smith did appear in one NHL game — with Colorado in 2014-15, and is encouraged by Pittsburgh’s willingness to promote players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and give them a shot.
And Smith realizes any chance of reaching the NHL starts with having success in the AHL.
“Seeing the amount of guys that Pittsburgh has taken chances on over the years is encouraging,” he said. “This will be a big year for me and I want to prove to people what I can do.”
While Smith has only played once at the Mohegan Sun Arena and faced the Penguins sparingly in his AHL career, he is thankful to join a team with consistent success.
“They make the playoffs every season, and that shows you the culture and belief of a team. Being able to play with that confidence, as a team, goes a long way for a player and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Smith said.