The Smith brothers act looks as though it may be a short-lived experiment for the Detroit Red Wings. Friday, the team placed center Gemel Smith on waivers. If another NHL team is not putting in a claim for him by noon eastern time on Saturday, the Wings could be assigning Smith to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
Gemel and his younger brother Givani Smith played as linemates in Detroit’s past two games. It marked the first time in 53 years that Detroit suited up brothers for a regular-season game.
However, with Carter Rowney (knee) and Vladislav Namestnikov (undisclosed) poised to return to action, perhaps as soon as Detroit’s next game on Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche, the team is needing to create space on the 23-player roster.
On waivers today: Bunnaman (PHI), Rask (MIN), Gemel Smith (DET)
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 18, 2022
“It gives flexibility for opportunities, depending on when guys get healthy coming back, where our roster is at, having . . . opportunities to send [players] to the minors,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Gemel hasn’t had tons of opportunity yet. He hasn’t played lots yet, but if Carter Rowney and Vladdy [are] back and you’re looking at a pretty full roster, I’m not sure he’s in the lineup on Wednesday. So this gives us some flexibility.”
Gemel Smith Doesn’t Have To Go To Grand Rapids
At the same time, Blashill cautioned that just because Gemel Smith is on waivers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he must go to GR.
“Just because somebody goes on waivers, it doesn’t mean if he’s not claimed that he doesn’t stay here,” Blashill said.
Debut of the Smith brothers. pic.twitter.com/tObZmAcBpt
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 15, 2022
Although he was playing on the wing in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers, Gemel Smith is a first and foremost a center. And the Wings will soon be blessed with an overabundance of centers.
“Gemel is a natural center,” Blashill said. “[He] played a little bit on the wing the last couple of games but when you got Carter, Ras (Michael Rasmussen), Suits (Pius Suter), Larks (Dylan Larkin) and Joe (Veleno), you got to make some decisions.
“We’ll see where it goes. We have flexibility with Joe because we don’t need to put him on waivers. This [waivers] would give us some flexibility with Gemel. You just want that flexibility when you’re making decisions on the lineup on a night-to-night basis.”
The Wings claimed Gemel Smith on waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning last month.
Veleno Sent Down
In an unrelated move, the Wings are assigned Veleno to Grand Rapids. It’s similar to what they did during the NHL All-Star break. While Detroit doesn’t play again until Wednesday, this will keep Veleno in action.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 18, 2022
The Griffins are playing a home-and-home series this weekend against the Rockford IceHogs. It’s likely the the Wings will then be recallling Veleno.