Reilly Smith brings a big contract and big-time play to the Golden Knights
The Florida Panthers’ need to clear cap space benefited Vegas.
Editor’s note: We’re continuing our expansion draft profiles, and we’re getting to the home stretch. If you’ve missed any of our profiles, make sure to click here.
The expansion draft brought a slew varying strategies across the NHL as teams scrambled to protect as many assets as they possibly could from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Those who couldn't protect everyone they wished chose to send draft picks to Vegas to entice them to simply not take those players. Other teams held their breath and crossed their fingers, hoping the Golden Knights wouldn’t poach high-end talent.
The Florida Panthers used the opportunity to dump salary, which benefited Vegas.
Not only did the Panthers allow Vegas to select 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault, they also sent point-producing winger Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights at the bargain bin price of a 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
The 26-year-old Smith has had an eventful career to-date. Leaving Miami University before his final year to sign with the Dallas Stars in 2012, Smith was included in the blockbuster Tyler Seguin trade that saw him sent to the Bruins along with Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, and Matt Fraser for Seguin and Rich Peverley.
The Bruins signed Smith to a two-year deal worth $6.85 million but was traded less than a year later along with Marc Savard's contract, to the Panthers for Jimmy Hayes. It was in July 2016 that Smith signed his five-year, $25 million contract extension that the Panthers would become desperate to rid themselves of.
Which they got rid of a full year after signing that deal.
Smith put up 25 goals and 50 points in his first season with the organization, but a steep drop to just 15 goals and 37 points in 2016-17 signaled the end of Smith's run in Florida.
Fortunately, if Smith's career trend of having a good first season with a new organization following a trade holds true (51 points in Boston in 2013-14, 50 points in Florida), the Golden Knights could be looking at a productive season ahead.
If such trends are a repeatable skill, that is (they aren't).
Smith’s 178 points the last four years sits 100th among all forwards, though his aforementioned 37-point campaign came just 157th (34th among right wingers). The issue, of course, is that Smith’s cap hit sits T-78th among all forwards (19th among right wingers).
Smith isn't a bad player. He is an excellent skater with good speed and a quick release. He's responsible in the defensive zone and can be relied upon in a big role if needed. He's creative, has good vision, and might still have a little offensive upside left untapped.
Despite his contract, or where he should be put in a lineup, he's definitely a player with NHL level skill. If put in the right situation, Smith can be very effective for the Golden Knights.
The question must be asked. Should it worry fans that both teams that signed Smith traded him not even a full year after pen was put to paper? With five-seasons left on his deal, whether or not his quick departure from his previous teams should be concerning, it does not matter. Still, it's something to keep your eyes on going forward.