The Chicago Blackhawks were finally able to move on from forward Artem Anisimov, as he was dealt to the Ottawa Senators for forward Zack Smith.
Both players had fallen out of favor with their organizations. Artem Anisimov was constantly being pushed down the lineup for younger talent and Zach Smith was placed on waivers by the Senators early last season.
Why Artem Anisimov Was Traded
Anisimov has been a player in the rumor mill since last offseason as he just didn’t fit the style the NHL was heading in.
His lack of top end speed and skating ability did him no favors. He was also not good enough at the faceoff dot.
However, Anisimov did provide the Blackhawks with a solid penalty killer and net-front presence on the second power play unit.
In Artem Anisimov’s four seasons with the Blackhawks, he was a consistent contributor who could be counted on to pot between 15 to 20 goals, but was never going to wow you in any way.
Anisimov was a player you didn’t notice on the ice, and for the amount he was being paid ( $4.55 million cap hit), he didn’t do enough to justify that price tag.
What Does Zack Smith Have to Offer?
Zach Smith has spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. He fits that mold of the rugged bottom-six player who can provide some offense, contribute on your penalty kill, and win faceoffs at a good rate.
Over the last two seasons, Ottawa has fallen apart and Zach Smith has followed suit. His faceoff percentage fell under 50% and his point totals dwindled down to less than 30.
Smith’s breakout season was the 2015-2016 season where he potted 25 goals, his career high, boasting a 20.7% shooting percentage and was 52% in the faceoff circle.
I don’t imagine Smith still has years like that left in the tank, but he fits the mold of players Bowman has been targeting this offseason. Players who can play the wing, or center, and are difficult to play against.
Along with Smith, the Blackhawks do gain some cap flexibility as he comes with a $3.25 million cap hit. This frees up $1.3 million in cap savings.
With 10 players locked into the forward group, seven defensemen (moving Dahlstrom to the AHL), and two goaltenders, the Blackhawks now have a little over $4 million in cap space with 2-3 forwards to add to the roster.
This move could also lead to a contract extension between the Blackhawks and restricted free agent, Brendan Perlini.
Perlini’s name has been floated out there as a possible trade candidate. With today’s deal, it appears as though they are still trying to free up more cap space to keep him in Chicago.
Although the cap savings isn’t the full amount of Anisimov’s contract like many had hoped, the Blackhawks can now add another bottom-six caliber player who can produce at the same rate on a cheaper contract.
With this change of scenery, the Blackhawks are hoping Zach Smith can recapture the success he had just a few seasons ago.
Even if Smith is unable to reach those levels again, the Blackhawks have successfully created more cap space than what they had yesterday.