The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a couple of roster moves prior to their game against the St. Louis Blues last night. Ben Smith was been activated off of injured reserve, while Frederik Gauthier was subsequently been sent down to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
With Ben Smith recovered from injury, the #leafs have sent Frederik Gauthier back to the AHL Marlies.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 2, 2017
Back in the Lineup
Ben Smith comes back into the Leafs lineup after missing 18 games, being out since December 17. Smith required hand surgery and has been patiently awaiting a return for nearly seven weeks. Prior to his injury, the 28-year old had appeared in 24 games with the Maple Leafs registering three points. He was claimed by Toronto off of waivers from Colorado back on October 24, where he has played as a fourth-line centre and penalty killer.
Smith featured last night back in his usual spot on the fourth line, alongside Matt Martin and Nikita Soshnikov. He could see some penalty kill time in the future as well, as he had been a stalwart component of the unit prior to his injury. Brought in as a faceoff specialist, it will be very interesting to see if Smith’s hand surgery impacts his faceoff abilities in any way.
Back to the Marlies
Frederik Gauthier is the casualty on the roster. As Ben Smith came back, Gauthier’s role as a fourth-line centre is now filled. In 18 games with the Maple Leafs, Gauthier scored three points as well. He goes back to the Marlies looking to use his NHL stint to spark offensive success. When he was called up back in December after Smith’s injury, he had just four points in 17 AHL games.
The Marlies are in need of depth, with Kasperi Kapanen, Brendan Leipsic and Brooks Laich all out with injuries. Gauthier returns with three Orlando Solar Bears providing spot duty, in Eric Faille, Brett Findlay and Tony Cameranesi. His addition to the lineup will be very important as the Marlies look to stay afloat with their two leading scorers out of the lineup.
The Leafs have reported interest in picking up another centre as the trade deadline quickly approaches. Smith comes back with basically one month to show that he can fill the fourth line role to the Leafs liking. If not, the Leafs will be looking to make a move.