The name is a little shorter now, but it still should be familiar to Bay State Hockey fans.
Jordan Smotherman first made waves in the local hockey scene when the Westborough, Mass. resident ventured up north and starred for Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, helping the budding power forward get drafted in the fourth round in 2005 by Atlanta. He was known as Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman then, but has since dropped his mother's maiden name to go strictly with his stepfather's surname.
"I've gone with the full switch to Smotherman now," said Smotherman. "It saves me most of a sleeve."
After four pro seasons spent mostly in the AHL in the Atlanta and Columbus systems, Smotherman hopes to have his name stitched to a Bruins jersey soon. He has been signed to an AHL deal with Boston's affiliate in Providence, and has been invited to the big club's main training camp.
"We were trying to do something at an NHL level, but it just didn't work out with the number of contracts they had here," said Smotherman, 24. "I'm still very excited to be a part of the organization. I think it's going to be a good opportunity for me. I'm looking forward to it."
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted Smotherman was signed mostly with improving the farm club in mind, but did leave open the possibility of Smotherman earning a shot in Boston.
"We like his size," said Chiarelli. "He'll help out with Providence and who knows at some point? We've seen him over time and he's got size and he can score. He's still young. We'll see how he does and maybe at some point we'll turn it into an NHL deal."
To do that, Smotherman will have to find a way to stand out in a crowded field with some 53 players in Boston's camp, including 30 forwards. Without an NHL deal, it may be difficult for the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Smotherman to get into any preseason action and show what he can do physically in a game setting.
"Hopefully they'll give me a chance," said Smotherman. "A guy like me it's a little tougher to show the strength of my game in practices, so I'm hoping I get the opportunity to play a couple exhibition games and show what I can do out there and make a name for myself in this organization."
Smotherman has played in four games in the NHL, all with Atlanta. He tallied a goal and an assist in a two-game call-up in 2007-08, and also played two games with the Thrashers in 2008-09. He was traded to Columbus last October, but spent the entire season with the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate in Syracuse, posting 10-22-32 totals and 75 penalty minutes in 78 games.
"My first call-up was certainly the toughest," said Smotherman. "My second game I had a goal and an assist and got sent down right after it. I've had my taste. I know I can play at that level. I just need to find the right opportunity to get myself back up there."
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