Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Another day, another dollar...saved. Zack Smith has become the latest well known player traded away by the Ottawa Senators. Smith, the club's longest serving current player (until today), was flipped to Chicago today for centre Artem Anisimov.
As a side note, the Sens appear to be over their allergy to Russian players. Anisimov, Nikita Zaitsev and Vitaly Abramov have all been acquired in the last 5 months.
The offer was magic to the Senators' ears, helping them with their main focus - saving money. Anisimov has a bigger cap hit than Smith but costs less in actual dollars. The Sens don't care about cap room - they have tons of it - looking to spend only what the NHL forces them to spend. Just for fun, though, let's break down the trade and pretend that hockey had anything to do with it.
Smith is a centre and winger who's 6' 2”, 208 pounds. Anisimov is 10 pounds lighter but two inches taller. Both are 31 years of age and neither guy has high end speed. Both had exactly 16:21 average time on ice. Smith had 28 points while Anisimov had 37. I think that gap is deceiving though, given Anisimov's power play time and playing so much with Patrick Kane. If you give those hockey privileges to Smith instead and I think that gap disappears. How do Anisimov's numbers look last year alongside Magnus Paajaarvi instead of Patrick Kane?
I like Anisimov for his willingness to go to the net and cram in loose pucks, particularly on the power play but, in these parts, that'll be Brady Tkachuk's office with the extra man. Smith is a step behind in skill and finish but he's better on faceoffs, more versatile and brings more toughness to the rink than Anisimov does. So I think it's a wash from a hockey perspective - for those of you still measuring Sens deals in that manner. The Sens did this to save cash, just as Chicago did it to clear cap room.
Had he stayed for the upcoming season, imagine how dispirited Zack Smith would have been. He's the longest serving Senator, trying to forget two nightmare seasons with another one likely on the way. Smith has said goodbye to so many friends and star teammates in the last year. He knows the club's prime directive is to save money. Smith would have to wait two more years for the club to begin its commitment to winning and unparalled success. And that's if he actually believes that promise.
Meanwhile, the GM wanted him gone, actually putting him on waivers. Smith would also have to prove himself again as the new coach doesn't really know him. Now Smith is wanted again. He's got a guy in Marc Crawford - the Hawks' new assistant coach - who loved him in Ottawa and plans to love him in Chicago. Smith is now on a better team, surrounded by superstars, with an owner committed to winning.
I'm thrilled for the guy. Zack Smith, the 2019 Chicago Blackhawk, will be a way better player than Zack Smith, the 2019 Ottawa Senator would have been. And he absolutely deserves a tip of the cap for his time here in Ottawa