With Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Gregory Campbell at the NHL level and a slew of talented pivot prospects in the system, the Bruins aren't exactly lacking for centers.
Still, it was a blow to their depth when versatile veteran center Trent Whitfield was lost for the season after suffering a ruptured Achilles' earlier this summer. Whitfield wasn't a flashy player, but he was a reliable veteran coach Claude Julien could call upon when the big club was short on healthy bodies.
The Bruins appear to have found a replacement for that role, as agent Ben Hankinson confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that veteran center Wyatt Smith has signed with Boston.
"Congrats to client Wyatt Smith on contract with Boston Bruins," wrote Hankinson. "Should be good fit as depth Center since Trent Whitfield injured 4 season."
Terms were not disclosed, but it is presumably a two-way deal, as Smith will assume some of Whitfield's leadership duties in Providence when not needed in Boston. Whitfield served as captain in Providence last season, while Smith also wore the C for Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Smith had 13-35-48 totals and 70 penalty minutes in 76 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but did not appear in any games for Pittsburgh. He has 10-22-32 totals in 211 career games in the NHL with Phoenix, Nashville, the New York Islanders, Minnesota and Colorado, last appearing in 25 games with the Avalanche in 2007-08.
The fact that Smith, 33, hasn't played in the NHL the past two years doesn't indicate the Bruins wouldn't use him in Boston if needed. Whitfield had played just three games in the league in the previous three seasons before playing 16 games in Boston in 2009-10.
A ninth-round draft pick by Phoenix in 1997, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Smith is entering his 12th professional season after a four-year career at the University of Minnesota.