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Buffalo waiving Dalton Smith while he has more PIM than TOI puts him in a select group

Also, one Lightning prospect gets ejected and another gets traded.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Prior to the Lightning’s New Year’s eve tilt against the Buffalo Sabres, their opponent made an interesting decision to sign Dalton Smith to a two-way contract and called him up from the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Fans of both teams saw this as Buffalo bringing up a “tough” guy to face the Lightning after Tampa Bay had made some questionable hits in previous match-ups this season.

Lost in the social media hysteria that these types of moves generate was the fact that Smith, an eight-year veteran, was finally getting a shot to play in the NHL after a career that has taken him from Springfield to Syracuse to Providence to LeHigh Valley to Estero to Rochester and finally Buffalo. The Oshawa native, a 2010 second round pick by the Blue Jackets, was a well traveled veteran and after 400 combined games in the AHL and ECHL he finally made his pro debut.

That’s a big moment for any player, no matter what their role is or how they got there. Unfortunately his debut was rather brief. Two shifts, 86 seconds, that’s all he saw of the ice. In fact, he actually spent more time in the penalty box than he did on the actual ice. Early in the second period he picked up a two-minute roughing call against Luke Schenn. That was it for his night.

On Thursday, the Sabres announced that Smith had been put on waivers. It’s likely that he will clear and end up back in Rochester.

That move sparked a trivia question in the Raw Charge Slack - How many players have played their NHL career and ended up with more penalty minutes than time on the ice? The answer, including Dalton Smith, is 11.

Players With More Time in the Penalty Box than on the Ice

Player Last NHL Season GP TOI PIM
Player Last NHL Season GP TOI PIM
Trevor Gilles 2012 57 185 261
Garrett Burnett 2004 39 140 184
Doug Doll 2006 37 107 151
Kyle Freadrich 2001 23 69 75
Rocky Thompson 2002 13 36 56
Dave Morisette 2000 11 26 57
Rob Skrlac 2004 8 18 22
Steve McLaren 2004 6 17 25
Danny Bois 2007 1 4 7
Dalton Smith 2020 1 1 2
Brian Wesenberg 1999 1 1 5
Data from Hockey Reference

As of right now, Smith is the only active player on the list. There is a chance he either stays in Buffalo (who made a couple of trades on Thursday and may not be done) or another team gives him a chance somewhere down the road. If that happens, the chances of him ending up with more TOI than PIM increase greatly if he ends up playing more games, especially in today’s NHL.

Most of those players listed filled similar roles as Smith, call ups to provide a physical presence on a team, and they played a few games and went back to the minors. There is one member of this group that did so for the Lighting, Kyle Freadrich.

A third-round pick by Vancouver in 1997, Freadrich was signed in the summer of 1999 by GM Rick Dudley to add some size and physicality to the team. At 6’7” and 255 lbs he definitely did that. When he did get in the line-up, which was rare, he managed to find someone to pick a fight with. The fight tracking website Hockey Fights has him listed as appearing in 8 NHL fights in his career. Which doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize he only appeared in 23 games which makes it much more impressive.

Give Freadrich credit, he didn’t shy away from the big names in the league at the time. Stu Grimson, Tie Domi, Paul Laus, and Georges Laraque all show up on his fight card. Interesting enough, the March 2000 game where he fought Chicago’s Ryan VandenBussche pretty much sums up this list. Freadrich had a total of 0:01 of ice time before he got into the fracas. Shortly after the game he went on the IR with back spasms. There were a couple of other scraps including the rare goalie match between Dan Cloutier and Steve Passmore (Cloutier draws the ire of Bob Probert at the end of the clash and wisely retreats).

Unlike some folks on the list above, Freadrich did end up with a point in his NHL career. On December 28th, 2000 (his 22nd birthday no less) he had a helper on a Marty St. Louis goal against Philadelphia. Yes, he did have a fight in that game (against Luke Richardson). Freadrich did help the Lightning in one notable way. In the summer of 2001, he and Nils Ekman were traded to the Rangers for Tim Taylor.

He never suited up for the Rangers (or the Hartford Wolfpack, their affiliate). An elbow to the head while he was with the Detroit Vipers the previous January left him with post-concussion syndrome. He would officially retire in the summer of 2002, his career over before the age of 24.

One thing that makes Smith stand out from the other names listed above, he’s the only one to show up without a fighting major. Every one of the other ten players was involved in at least one scrap. While the speculation was that Smith was brought up in case the Lightning took any liberties with his Sabres teammates, it was Jake McCabe who dropped the gloves with Mikhail Sergachev after the Russian defender hit Jack Eichel with a clean check.

Chances are there won’t be too many more names added to the list above. Part of the reason there was so much talk online about Smith’s signing was that teams just don’t do things like that any more.

With the quicker pace of the game and the league’s crackdown on premeditated fighting over the last few years, the role of the enforcer has just kind of faded away. Those that fight tend to have the skills to put the puck in the net as well.

The Game against Montreal

The Lightning allowed Andrei Vasilevskiy to be great against the Canadiens. How? By letting him face a lot of shots. The goalie stopped 38 out of 39 as Tampa Bay defeated Montreal 2-1 on Thursday night. [Raw Charge Quick Cap]

A view from the other side of the ice. [Eyes on the Prize]

The Organization

Gabriel Fortier, captain of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Lightning prospect, was traded to the Moncton Wildcats for a player and five draft picks. That gives Fortier, a second-round pick in 2018, the chance to play for a Moncton team that is expected to go deep in the QMJHL playoffs. [Raw Charge]

Another prospect, Nolan Foote, made the news as well. The 2019 first-round pick was ejected from Canada’s game against Slovakia after the forward delivered what was ruled as a hit to the head of Kristian Kovacik. As with all of these types of plays, social media was all a twitter following the play with arguments on both sides of the aisle. Was it a dirty hit? No. Was it a necessary hit? Also no. He got kicked out, Canada still won, and he’ll be back for the semi-final game as the IIHL decided not to hand out and further discipline. Stay tuned later today as Lauren wraps up all of the World Juniors action. [Kelwona Capital News]

Andrei Vasilevskiy answered some questions from Paul Bissonnette. They address all the hot topics: Cats vs. Dogs (I think we know what side Vasy is on for that one), best dressed teammate, and who needs their coffee in the morning. [NHL Twitter]

Alex Killorn answered some questions from fans in a recent post on The Athletic (subscription required). Among discussion of how meditation has helped him and his increased role as a leader on the team, he addresses the question most people have on their minds - Why do you fall down so much? [The Athletic]

The Game

Buffalo was busy Thursday. Not only did they battle back from two goals down to beat Edmonton in overtime, they also made a few trades. First they sent Marco Scandella to Montreal for a fourth-round pick (originally San Jose’s). They then sent that pick to Calgary in exchange for veteran Michael Frolik. [Die by the Blade]

Following Corey Perry’s ejection from the Winter Classic, the folks at Defending Big D dug into the league’s recent history of handing out supplemental discipline (Perry should add to those numbers after his hearing today) to see if there were any trends. The Lightning make an appearance in the post. [Defending Big D]

Halfway through the season NHL.com takes a look at who might be leading in the race for the Calder Trophy. Carter Verhaeghe and Mitchell Stephens did not receive any votes. Boo. [NHL.com]

Birthday

If today is your birthday, then Happy Birthday from Raw Charge. You are celebrating your special day with 39 NHL players (which seems like a lot) including two who played for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  1. Todd Warriner - The speedy winger played parts of two seasons with the Lightning from 1999-01 (when it seemed like the Bolts went through roughly 325 semi-prospect type forwards). He was acquired for a third-round pick in 1999, scored 21 goals in 119 games for Tampa Bay and then was traded to Phoenix for Juha Ylonen in June of 2001.
  2. Cory Cross- The epitome of a stay-at-home defender, Cross was obtained by the Lightning by way of the 1992 Supplemental Draft. For a few years the NHL allowed teams to select collegiate players who weren’t draft-eligible via a supplemental draft. Cross spent a season with the Atlanta Knights (and won the Turner Cup) before manning the Lightning blueline for five seasons. The Lightning eventually dealt him (and a seventh round pick) to Toronto for a key part of the Stanley Cup team of 2004 - Fredrick Modin. Cross would last in the NHL until 2005-06 picking up playing time with the Rangers, Oilers, Penguins, and Red Wings.