Sunday, 3 April 2016

RFAs, the Series - Episode 3: Colin Smith

Continuing on from Episode 2: Stuart Percy, today we're going to discuss Taylor Lautner Colin Smith.

A little too similar, if you ask me
Colin Smith was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. If you want some insight into him as a player, check out this Steve Dangle article on him. There's some good thoughts in there, not to mention some fantastic highlights.

Steve's ultimate conclusion is that Smith is an exciting prospect for the Maple Leafs. He has a small stature, but has been a points-machine with the Marlies since joining.

He jumped from 0.63 points-per-game (34 in 54) with the San Antonio Rampage (bottom 5 team) to 1.1 points-per-game (19 in 17, so far) with the Toronto Marlies (running away with the league lead). There's a tricky balance there between the benefits of playing with better players. On one hand, he can showcase his passing ability better with teammates who know where to be and can finish. On the other, he has better players around him to set him up, keep him in the offensive zone, etc. I'm tempted to say this falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

At just 22, Smith certainly has some development left to go. He was acquired as a prospect so that shouldn't surprise anyone. It also shouldn't come as a surprise that the Leafs likely intend to hang on to him while he develops.

So, what?

What do you do with Smith then?

He would likely come into next season as the Marlies' number one center. A good opportunity for a young player. What kind of money do you give a player like this coming off of his entry level contract?

Ideal: 3 year $850k AAV, two-way contract

This locks Smith up for the rest of his likely development track. At the end of this contract, you can have a strong evaluation of him as a player and whether you want him to be part of your future or not. Ideally, during this time, he will establish a job in the NHL on a cheap contract. This would be ideal for the Leafs. 

A two-way contract would mean he would make substantially less in the AHL (where he would likely be). Not that MLSE needs to pinch pennies, but players like Smith are the reason two-way contracts exist.

Realistic: 1 year $600k AAV, two-way contract

This is the contract Sam Carrick got last season coming out of his ELC. While Smith has had far better AHL numbers, Carrick was up with the NHL club for 16 games before signing this contract. Smith has only played 1 game at the NHL level. As such, this seems like a pretty realistic contract, which would again be a two-way deal.

Pessimistic: 1 year $800k AAV, one-way contract

This pessimistic case has Smith's agents successfully arguing for a substantial raise due to his AHL performance. Since this is a one-way contract, it means he would get the same amount whether he was playing in the AHL or NHL.

While this is the worst case, it really wouldn't be all that bad.


At these prices, it's pretty obvious the Leafs will bring Smith back. No matter what the contract ends up being, keeping Smith around is unquestionably the right move. Even if he resembles a Twilight co-star.

Keep your eye out for the next episode, which will cover the previously mentioned Sam Carrick.

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