Detroit Red Wings waive Gemel Smith after 3 games. Here’s why

Detroit Free Press

One month after they claimed him, the Detroit Red Wings placed Gemel Smith on waivers.

“It gives us flexibility,” coach Jeff Blashill said Friday afternoon. Smith, 27, had one assist and was minus-2 in three appearances. If he goes unclaimed by 2 p.m. Saturday, the Wings can assign Smith to the minors.

The Wings (23-22-6) don’t play again until Wednesday when they host the Colorado Avalanche, at which point Vladislav Namestnikov (lower body) is expected to be available. That would then enable the Wings to slot Joe Veleno as the fourth-line center, essentially making Smith extraneous.

“It gives us flexibility to send guys to the minors,” Blashill said. “Just because somebody goes on waivers, it doesn’t mean if he doesn’t get claimed, he doesn’t stay here. Gemel hasn’t had tons of opportunity. But if Carter Rowney and Vladdy is back, you’re looking at a pretty full roster, and I’m not sure he’s in the lineup on Wednesday. So this gives us some flexibility.”

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Gemel is the older brother of Wings forward Givani Smith. The two played together for the first time in their careers Monday at Minnesota, and repeated the feat Thursday at the New York Rangers. Namestnikov was unavailable both games.

Carter Rowney has been sidelined since Jan. 4 with a lower body injury.

Veleno can be sent to the minors without being exposed on waivers. While he has played wing, ideally he plays at the center spot.

The Wings claimed Gemel Smith on Jan. 19, after he was placed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had been out with an abdominal injury, and was sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins for a three-game conditioning stint.

Smith debuted in a Wings uniform Feb. 2, when he had an assist and a fight.

BROTHERLY LOVE: Gemel and Givani Smith play together as Red Wings for first time

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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