First thing this morning, their time, Adler Mannheim announced officially what was rumoured for some time: Ben Smith is moving to the DEL next season.
Smith leaves the Toronto system after playing parts of two seasons on the Leafs, and then playing one glorious, perfect year as captain of the Marlies.
He led the team to the cup, was the regular season points and goals leader with 59 points and 27 goals in 73 games, and was third in the playoffs with 16 points behind the playoffs MVP Andreas Johnsson and Trevor Moore.
Before he was on the Leafs, Smith won a few things:
On the Leafs, Smith was only holding his own as a fourth line player. On the Marlies, as a winger or a centre, he was top-six all the way, and was able to bring all his skills to the fore.
I detailed his actual play on the Leafs here:
And that game, and the analysis of his prior season really was a very good indicator of what was to come in the AHL. Smith will always be, for me, the greatest lesson in ignoring the raw Corsi and looking for the bigger picture.
In the DEL, he’s going to kill it. He joins old Chicago teammate Andrew Desjardins who is in his second year, and Markus Eisenschmid who played several seasons on the Montréal Canadiens AHL teams as well as some of the top German players in the league.
There’s one other fellow who will see strangely familiar. Goalie Chet Pickard is in his second year with the team.
Good luck, Ben, have fun, don’t drink too much good beer, and win another championship.