Pictures of Matchstick Men – ’19-20 Blackhawks Player Previews: Zack Smith

I’m as tired of writing about 4th-line glorified quadruple-A guys as you are of reading about them. Let’s just get through it:

2018-19 Stats (with Senators)

70 GP – 9 G – 19 A – 28 Pts.

44.6 CF% (-0.8 CF% Rel) – 41.3 oZS%

45.2 xGF% (-2.24xGF% Rel)

Avg. TOI: 16:21

A Brief History: You may remember a guy by the name of Artem Anisimov, who was really not good at anything over the last couple seasons. He was no longer Annette Frontpresence—overrated as she always was anyway—he was slow, which is really saying something on this team, his puck handling was laughable, it goes on. He was a 4C making over $4 million a year, which was downright stupid as well as unsustainable. So StanBo finally got rid of him and his contract, but because we were giving away trash, we could only get trash in return.

Enter Zack Smith, lifelong member of the Ottawa Senators, and not only that, a guy that this joke of a team put on waivers before last season and had to take back when there was no better offer. I imagine Smith kinda like George Costanza after he quits—quietly slipping back in and trying to pretend like nothing happened, like it was a joke. Although this is the Senators we’re talking about, so do not take this humiliation to be entirely Smith’s fault—they were also just being douchebags. His paltry production made him a scapegoat, but he was a scapegoat nonetheless for a team with so many, many other problems.

Anyway, at $3.25 million a year he’s still a grossly overpaid 4th, or at best 3rd, line-guy, but thanks to Anisimov’s signing bonus and other financial chicanery that goes into professional sports contracts, both teams end up saving money on this deal, which is really the only thing that matters to these obscenely wealthy shithead dinosaurs in the end.

It Was the Best of Times: The best-case scenario is that Smith isn’t a trainwreck. He fills up time and space so that better players can get a breather, while he and his fellow fourth-liners take dungeon shifts and maybe flip the ice. Or, perhaps Smith can be packaged up with a better layer as part of a trade later in the season, as the plethora of cheaper fourth-liners makes him truly unnecessary. Just do no harm and that would be sufficient.

It Was the BLURST of Times: I’d like to say the worst situation would be for Smith to see serious playing time, because that means the Hawks have no one better than a washed-up former Senator. And while it’s true that such an outcome would be bad, the real worst-case scenario would be if Smith is totally useless. They’re spending over $3 million, which means they probably won’t be able to unload his shitty contract. I know, there’s lots of morons out there, but we just pulled one on Ottawa to get the mild cap-situation improvement we’re now discussing, plus we dumped Manning on the Oilers, so the truly abject morons who would be willing to take this guy might be onto us at this point. At the very least, pawning him off is not something we can count on. And apparently he’s got a back injury right now, which is never a non-issue even if it’s technically something minor. That shit just gets worse. Maybe I’m overly frugal, but wasting that money entirely and not even getting 10 minutes a night from this oaf would be the most lamentable outcome.

Prediction: Zack Smith will manage to both suck and blow, yet the Hawks won’t be able to get rid of him nor will they be willing to eat the shit sandwich that their prior decisions left them with and play a younger prospect in his place. Neither success now nor helping the next generation is what we’ll get, unless he’s hurt for a significant portion of time, in which case we at least won’t have to watch him. We can just watch that cap space go up in flames instead.

Stats from Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick

Previous Previews

Robin Lehner

Corey Crawford

Adam Boqvist

Carl Dahlstrom

Calvin de Haan

Erik Gustafsson

Duncan Keith

Slater Koekkoek

Olli Maatta

Connor Murphy

Drake Caggiula

Ryan Carpenter

Alex DeBrincat

David Kampf

Patrick Kane

Alex Nylander

Brendan Perlini

Brandon Saad




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