The Ducks beefed up their blue line (or their AHL affiliate’s blue line) with the signing of Matt Smaby. The former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman will earn $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors.
That’s a slight pay increase over the last two seasons, which helps explain why Smaby left for Anaheim once Tampa Bay didn’t present a qualifying offer. The 26-year-old had spent his entire career in the Lightning organization after being drafted in the second round in 2003.
Where he fits in the Ducks organization remains to be seen. Their top seven defensemen (Visnovsky, Lydman, Fowler, Sbisa, Beauchemin, Foster, Brookbank) seem to be in place, but Smaby offers size (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) matched only by Foster (6-5, 220) with more toughness. He fought twice last season, coincidentally, against two former Ducks — Troy Bodie and Brian Sutherby — according to hockeyfights.com.
Don’t expect much scoring from Smaby; he has no goals and six assists in his NHL career. As a pro, he’s split time almost perfectly between the AHL (156 games) and NHL (122) and last year was the Lightning’s seventh defenseman while shuttling between Tampa and AHL Norfolk.
The guess here is that Smaby has the inside track on the eighth defenseman job, occupied last year by Andreas Lilja, Paul Mara and Andy Sutton. When injuries left the Ducks short on forwards, Randy Carlyle sometimes used Brookbank as a fourth-line left wing and gave the eighth defenseman a cameo.
FYI, I’m told that “Matt Smaby” rhymes with “That’s Maybe.”