|Austin Smith (Credit: Steve Conner/Idaho Steelheads)|
Starting the long journey to Pori Finland. Excited for a new opportunity and chance to play in Europe!100 Degree Hockey was able to reach Texas Stars GM Scott White, but he had no comment on the situation at this time.
— Austin B Smith (@MagicHatNine) December 10, 2013
The news might seem a bit jarring out of context, but when you look at the whole of Smith's situation, is it?
Austin Smith was drafted in 2007 in the fifth round, just one pick before Jamie Benn, now captain of the Dallas Stars. Smith, a native Texan, had a standout college career where he was runner-up for the Hobey Baker and scored goals in bunches for Colgate.
He joined the pro ranks on an ATO at the end of the ill-fated 2011-12 season. The touted goal scorer only potted two in sixteen games with Texas in the next season and spent most of the year with Idaho. He did score prolifically there, but it appears he thought he had earned more.
He made the opening roster for 2013-14 in the AHL but was demoted last week after getting into ten games and registering no points at all.
Unable to work his game here in Cedar Park and certain that he could play more of a role with an AHL club, Smith was stuck. It wouldn't be surprising to me if he asked to be re-assigned or traded elsewhere in the AHL and was unsuccessful in that request. Dallas has done that before with players such as Ray Sawada (IceCaps), Mathieu Tousignant (IceCaps) and Carl Sneep (Rivermen). This seems to be a compromise between reassigning him inside the AHL and saying no outright.
This year is a contract year for Smith, so it's a fair bet that he does not get extended a qualifying offer by Dallas at the end of the year. While he is still under contract to Dallas, the Stars will own his North American rights.
I expect we will hear more from the Stars' organization once Smith makes it to Finland.