Breakdown: Blackhawks trade Anisimov for Smith

Ottawa Senators' Zack Smith in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

by Scott King

The Blackhawks traded 31-year-old center Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for forward Zack Smith on Tuesday during the second day of the team’s annual development camp.

Smith, also 31, served as a Senators’ alternate captain the past two years and is signed through the 2020-21 season with a cap hit of 3.25 million. The deal clears up some cap space as Anisimov’s contract through the 2020-21 season has a cap hit of 4.55 million.

The move also seems to indicate the Blackhawks believe they’d benefit more from Smith’s higher faceoff percentage and physicality than Anisimov’s offensive production.

Smith had nine goals and 19 assists with 136 hits in 70 games last season. He plays center and on the wing. His career faceoff percentage is 50.7. Anisimov had 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) last season and has a career 45.9 faceoff percentage.

“They’re different players, first of all, Arty was a great Blackhawk, we wish him well,” Blackhawks VP and GM Stan Bowman said following the trade. “I think Stylistically, they play different games. Both veterans, they both played in the league for a long time.

“I think Zack brings a different skillset to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. Versatile player, he’s played wing and he’s played center, which we like. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, he plays with an edge.

“He’s had some years in the past when he’s scored a lot, but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He’s tough to play against out there. I think the other teams don’t find it too fun sometimes.”

On a conference call after the trade, Smith indicated he doesn’t care where he plays, he’s just happy to be with the Blackhawks.

“I’m just excited beyond words to be playing for Chicago,” Smith said. “So if they want to put me in goal or on D, I’d be happy with that too. Center or wing is fine with me.”

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