The Chicago Blackhawks will be paying Zack Smith $3,250,000 next season, as he has just 1-year left on his contract. He should be looked at as expendable.
With all of the talk of Brandon Saad or Olli Maatta being traded or bought out by the Chicago Blackhawks, the name Zack Smith isn’t brought up enough. Losing Saad or Maatta would be way worse than getting rid of Smith and the $3,250,000 cap hit he costs the Hawks.
Smith played in 50-games last season for Chicago until he underwent back surgery. The 32-year-old forward scored 4-goals and had 7-assists for 11-points during that time.
As a depth player, Smith is expendable. For the role he plays, he shouldn’t be paid as much as he is. I think the Blackhawks expected more out of him, as they traded Artem Anisimov. Smith saved $1,300,000 AAV for the trade but was more of a downgrade than expected.
Smith is a depth forward, who wins faceoffs and plays well on special teams. They did just fine without Smith in the playoffs. He will never take Jonathan Toews’ spot on special teams, and Dylan Strome has taken the second-line role and has played well. There a special team’s role for Smith anymore, as even Kirby Dach or David Kampf could fill that role.
Getting rid of Smith via trade for draft capital would clear up $3,250,000. The $3,250,000 could go straight to Strome, as he is an RFA this offseason. Strome is worth more to the team than Smith, and it helps dodge the bullet of losing Strome, due to a salary-cap crunch.
If Chicago buys him out, they will save $2,166,667 AAV this season, but lose $1,083,333 on next year’s salary cap. They’re saving money that they can use to go towards re-signing Strome or Dominik Kubalik, but it isn’t the full amount that would fulfill either contract.
Either decision they make would be a good one, as even saving $2,166,667 this season is better than putting Smith out on the ice for $3,250,000. Smith played well this season, but they have better players who can fit his role already on the team.