It is becoming something of an annual thing.
The Nashville Predators traded veteran forward Jerred Smithson to the Florida Panthers on Friday and received a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft in return.
The move comes fewer than 72 hours before the NHL’s trade deadline and gives Nashville nine selections, including two in the sixth round, of this year’s draft. It also is reminiscent of a similar move made almost one year ago to the day.
On Feb. 25, 2011, the Predators dealt defenseman Alexander Sulzer to the Panthers for a seventh-round pick in last year’s draft. That turned out to be the last move they made before the deadline.
Nashville plays at Florida, which entered Friday one point behind Winnipeg for first place in the Southeast Division, a week from Saturday.
Smithson, 33, has been one of the team’s top penalty killers and among its most consistent faceoff men beginning with the 2005-06 season, the first following the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 campaign.
His 55.6 percent success rate this season easily is best among all of Nashville’s regular faceoff men, and he is the only forward with an average of more than two minutes of shorthanded time per game.
He signed as a free agent in July 2004 after three seasons as primarily a minor league player with the Los Angeles Kings.
He is the Predators’ all-time leader in games played by a free agent. Of his 527 career games, 497 have been with Nashville.
He has 89 career points (36 goals, 53 assists), all but three of them with the Predators. He also scored the franchise’s first overtime playoff goal last season in a Game 5 victory at Anaheim.
• Earlier in the day, defenseman Ryan Ellis, Nashville’s first-round pick in 2009, was reassigned to Milwaukee.
Ellis made his NHL debut on Dec. 26, when Shea Weber was out with an injury, and played 22 games. He scored three goals, including two game-winners, and added six assists with a plus-8 rating.
He was scratched in two of the three games since veteran Hal Gill, acquired in a trade last Friday, was added to the lineup.