The Ottawa Senators announced on Monday that they have agreed to a contract extension with Zack Smith. This is great news for the organization as Smith has proved over the last year and a half that he is an important piece of the franchise moving forward.
Since taking over as general manager, Pierre Dorion has extended some key pieces, including Cody Ceci, Mike Hoffman and now Smith. The franchise gave Smith a four-year extension with an AAV of $3.25 million — a much-deserved raise for the Senators’ hardworking forward.
Increased Offensive Production
Thanks to a series of injuries to the Senators’ top-six forwards last season, Smith was given a great opportunity to play with more offensively-gifted players. In his most recent 125 games, he has 59 points, 37 of those are goals dating back to the start of the 2015-16 campaign. In six seasons and 318 games prior to the 2015-16 season, Smith had a total of 39 goals. Clearly, Smith has benefited from this new opportunity to play in a top-six role.
This season, the Maple Creek, Saskatchewan native has 12 goals and is on pace for a second consecutive 20 goal season which solidified the terms of his new deal with the Sens.
Smith is not only turning out to be offensively skilled but has proven he can be relied on to play in all situations and anywhere in the lineup. This versatility has shown itself since the 2015-16 campaign. The gritty offensive forward is also able to play at centre, winning face-offs in important situations or play on the wing when needed. This season, Smith is 53.7% in the face-off dot, trailing only Jean-Gabriel Pageau among players who take draws for the Senators.
In 2014-15, Smith struggled, putting up only three points in 37 games while playing in the Senators’ bottom-six. That season, he only played an average of 11 seconds on the power play and 57 seconds on the penalty kill. The comparison between that season and this season is night and day. Under a new head coach, Smith is up to a game average of 1:26 minutes on the power play and 1:53 minutes on the penalty kill. Guy Boucher’s approach to coaching, identifying and capitalizing on players’ strengths is working.
After speaking with TSN 1200’s Gord Wilson ahead of the Senators game against the Washington Capitals earlier this week, Boucher was very happy with the re-signing:
“I can’t be happier. I think Pierre has done a great job here sorting it out with the agent and Smitty. It gives us four years of one of our most important tools I find, one of the guys that has so much versatility in what he can do because he is one of those few guys that can skate with the top-end guys and has the grit, can score, wins face-offs, double shifted on penalty kill, plays on the power play,” he said. “I have him everywhere because he represents the type of culture we are trying to get here- hard nosed, in your face, is relentless.”
25 last year. On pace for same this year. Can play it any way you want. The 4yr/13M deal for Zack Smith seems like good value for the #Sens
— John Rodenburg (@TSNJR) January 23, 2017
The fact that Dorion got this deal done and made this a priority ahead of the trade deadline and the July 1st unrestricted free agency period speaks volumes to how much respect the organization has for Smith. Some media sources were reporting earlier this month that Smith could be in store for a contract around the $4M mark in free agency, so it’s not unfair to say that he took a hometown discount to stay in Ottawa. This is another great signing by Dorion, a signing that will benefit the Senators long-term as they build a culture of winning in Ottawa.