Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Plymouth trades Smith, Lee to Niagara

The Plymouth Whalers traded 19-year-old goaltender Jeremy Smith and 20-year-old right wing Patrick Lee to the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for second-round and eighth-round picks in the 2010 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 Priority Selection.

With Smith (top) moving to Niagara, 18-year-old Matt Hackett and 16-year-old rookie Scott Wedgewood will share duties in goal for the Whalers.

“Matt Hackett has clearly stepped up and has taken over the job as the number one goaltender,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said. “I feel it’s time to move Smith so he can be a number one goaltender again. Patrick Lee is a victim of numbers. I never expected to get Brett Bellemore back (from Albany of the AHL on Monday) and Scott Fletcher has been very good for us.”

Smith (Brownstown) was originally selected by Plymouth in the fourth round (64th overall) in the 2005 OHL draft and is playing in his third full season in the OHL. In 96 career games with the Whalers, Smith compiled a 3.15 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, seven shutouts and a 49-30-3-4 won-loss record. Smith was part of the Whalers' OHL championship team in 2006-07 and won the Dave Pinkney Trophy with Michal Neuvirth for the best team goals-against average in the OHL. Smith won USA Hockey’s Dave Peterson in 2007 as the best junior goaltender in the United States.

Smith, selected in the second round (54th overall) by the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, played for Team USA in the 2008 World Junior Championship and has been signed by Nashville.

The trade of Lee reduces the Whalers to the OHL’s three-overage (1988 birthday) limit. Plymouth’s other overage players include Fletcher (Haslett) and Bellemore – both defensemen – and center Matt Caria.

Lee was acquired from Erie in October of 2007 and scored 10 goals with 13 assists for 23 points in 37 games this season. Overall, Lee scored 25 goals with 26 assists for 51 points in 98 career games with the Whalers. Lee was originally selected by Erie in the sixth round (109th overall) of the 2004 OHL draft and played two seasons with the Otters, scoring 10 goals with 20 assists for 30 points in 119 games.

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