Jerred Smithson’s contract extension, announced by the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, was not the result of his play a night earlier.
The 31-year-old forward had no points in a 5-1 victory over Minnesota but was on the ice for two of the Predators’ goals. His screen contributed to the first of three third-period goals as Nashville pulled away over the final 20 minutes.
That qualified as an offensive night for Smithson who, since 2005-06, has been one of the team’s most consistent and reliable defensive forwards. It was with that in mind that General Manager David Poile offered the two-year extension at $800,000 per season, which secured Smithson’s services through 2012-13.
“The Smithson line was huge [against Minnesota],” coach Barry Trotz said following that contest. “They not only shut down the lines they played against — some pretty good offensive lines — they contributed offensively.
“That’s discouraging when your offensive lines are getting scored on by the shutdown line. … They had a pretty big effect on the game.”
Smithson actually sat down on the job, though, when it came to performing his primary task.
One of the NHL’s most-used penalty killers up front (he ranks among the top 10 in shorthanded ice time per game this season), Smithson was whistled for two of the three penalties called against Nashville. That left others to kill them off in his place, which they ultimately did before he handled nearly one half (58 seconds) of the kill that followed a delay of game penalty against Cody Franson.
Originally signed as a free agent following the 2003-04 season, he is ninth all-time (first among those signed as a free agent) with 404 games played for Nashville. He also is fifth all-time for shorthanded points by a Predator with nine (five goals, four assists).
Smithson has won more than 52 percent of his faceoffs in each of the last five seasons and headed into Thursday’s game at Florida (6 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) was on pace for his best success rate ever at a team-leading 57.6 percent.
None of this is new to him.
Since he turned pro in 2000-01, Smithson has scored 10 goals or more once. That was his first season in Nashville’s organization, when he had 11 for Milwaukee in 2004-05.
With four goals and four assists in the first 41 games this season, Smithson was on pace to equal his career-high in the NHL, which he set in 2007-08.
“I know my role and that’s to play solid defensively, be physical, be on the penalty kill and contribute offensively when I can,” he said recently.
Now also he knows where he’ll be performing that role for the next two seasons.