The Chicago Blackhawks have been attempting to move the Russian center for some time now.
Well, there is it. The Blackhawks finally moved Artem Anisimov and his $4.55M cap hit on Tuesday. The ‘Hawks acquired veteran center Zack Smith from the Ottawa Senators in the deal. Smith, much like Anisimov, is a 31-year-old center that has struggled in recent years. He has two years left on his current contract with an AAV of $3.25M. The trade saves the Blackhawks roughly $1.3M in cap space.
In 70 games for the Ottawa Senators last season, Zack Smith scored just nine goals and had 19 assists. The year prior he recorded five goals and 19 points in 68 games. He’s scored more than 16 goals once in his 10-year career. What Smith lacks in the offensive department though, he makes up for in the dirty areas.
The Blackhawks Continue To Add Grit
It’s been pretty easy to tell what the Blackhawks have been trying to do this offseason. With the additions of Andrew Shaw, Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, and now Zack Smith, it’s clear they want to be tougher on their opponents. Smith is another forward (much like Shaw) who is not afraid of being physical. He regularly records over 100 hits per season, and he’s also solid in the faceoff department. There’s a decent chance that he plays more wing than center this upcoming season, but it’s nice to have that security blanket if someone is kicked out of a draw.
“He was more of a center early in his career, he’s played more wing recently. His faceoffs are good from one side. Whether he is a full-time center, we still have to figure that out” said General Manager Stan Bowman when asked about Smith’s fit with the current Blackhawks roster.
Where exactly Zack Smith fits in the lineup will be determined later on down the road. As of right now, it sounds like he’s just excited to finally be out of Ottawa.
“I’m just excited beyond words to be playing for Chicago… so if they want to put me in goal or on ‘D’, I’d be fine with that too.” Smith joked.
Overall, this move makes a lot of sense for the Blackhawks. They were able to move Anisimov, and more importantly, the $4.55M cap hit, without having to give up a current prospect. This was as good of a return as the Blackhawks were going to get for Anisimov. There’s a reason it took this long to move him. The ‘Hawks might have lost some offensive ability in their bottom six, but they added versatility and tenacity. Something they have been trying to add all offseason.
Zack Smith may be coming off of a couple of down offensive seasons, but that’s not what the Blackhawks need from him. They need him to provide a competitive edge, kill penalties, and to be a leader in the locker room. If Smith does just that, then this trade will be an easy win for the Chicago Blackhawks.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkHawkey).