Tampa Bay Lightning loan Gemel Smith to Henderson Silver Knights
The Lightning retain his NHL rights as he heads to the desert.
In a move you don’t see all that often, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have re-assigned forward Gemel Smith to the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL. Please note this was not a trade and the Lightning retain the rights to Smith if they need to recall him to the NHL, nor do they receive any compensation from Henderson or their NHL affiliate partner, the Vegas Golden Knights.
It’s been an odd couple of seasons for the veteran center. The Lightning originally signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2019 and he spent the majority of the season in Syracuse where he put up 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 50 games. He also appeared in 3 games for the Lightning, posting 1 goal.
The next season was the COVID-shortened season of 2020-21 where Smith spent most of the season on the Lightning’s taxi squad and he appeared in just 8 goals between the Crunch and Lightning all season. In the five games in Tampa Bay he did add 3 assists to his NHL ledger and was also part of history when he played on a line with Mathieu Joseph and Daniel Walcott, becoming what is believed to be the first all-Black line in NHL history.
Injuries shortened his 2021-22 campaign as he appeared in a total of 19 games for three different teams. The Detroit Red Wings claimed him off of waivers from the Lightning on January 19th and he appeared in 3 games with the Red Wings (and got a chance to play with his brother Givani). The Lightning claimed him back a month later and he finished the season in Syracuse.
This year he’s been back in the line-up full time and producing. His 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) is third on the team (his 1.06 points per game trails only Alex Barre-Boulet’s 1.27). A physical forechecker who is always more than willing to throw a hit, his 89 PIMs is 10th in the AHL.
He had put up 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in his last five games, but had not appeared for the Crunch since February 4th, missing their three games since the All-Star Break.
It’s an interesting move for a Syracuse team that is in the playoff race for right now, especially considering Henderson is currently 9th in the AHL Pacific Division and well out of a post season spot. Smith instantly becomes the Silver Knights top point producer eclipsing Gage Quinney’s 35 points.
The team provided no reason for the move as of right now nor does it really indicate any larger moves on the horizon unless the Lightning have a handshake agreement to finalize a deal with Vegas down the road for future considerations. As we mentioned, Smith is still under contract to the Lightning, so should they need to recall him for injury reasons, they can.
Smith had signed a two-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $750,000 in the summer of 2021 that expires this summer, at which point the 28-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent.
Best of luck to Gemel in Henderson!