Dalton Smith  doesn’t pull any punches as to what’s expected.
In limited minutes over his first five games with the Syracuse Crunch, the 6-2, 218-pound power forward has a goal and a fighting major, but while Smith has shown he can chip in on the scoresheet, he’s not focused on point production.
“I’m an energy guy, someone who’s going to stick up for his teammates," the 21-year-old said. "If we need a boost, hopefully I can make a play, whether it’s a big hit or a fight. Getting points is a bonus. They don’t expect me to put up big numbers. Just the way I play around the net, sometimes I get some lucky rebounds.”
The toughness is certainly in the winger’s genes.
Smith’s father, Derrick, suited up for 537 National Hockey League games, while his uncles, Keith and Wayne Primeau, combined to play in nearly 1,700 NHL games (Wayne 64 with Tampa Bay). Each accumulated more penalty minutes than games played.
“He’s a kid that can step up for his teammates,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler of Dalton Smith, who has spent most of his five games on Syracuse’s grinding line. “You can probably put him up a little higher in the lineup if you needed to.”
In junior, Smith registered 123 points in 237 games over his four-year stint with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League. He added 413 penalty minutes, including 41 fights.
Selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round of the 2010 draft, Smith recorded nine points and 140 penalty minutes in 68 games during his rookie season with AHL Springfield. Before being traded at the deadline to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, the Oshawa, Ont. native had nine points and 99 penalty minutes -- including 15 bouts -- over 50 games.
It took less than two games in a Crunch uniform for Smith to find his first dance partner as he dropped the gloves with the Rochester Americans’ Tim Schaller March 8.
“He’s shown his gritty side,” Zettler said. “It’s on me to get him a few more minutes to see what he can do. He hasn’t played a ton in games, but I felt like he’s provided some physicality for us.”
Although Smith is glad to have a clean slate with the Crunch, he plans to keep his style of play the same.
“I’m really happy it happened,” Smith said of the trade. “And I’m thrilled to get a fresh start and new opportunities.”