NHL Rumor Mill – September 26, 2018
Reaction to the Senators placing Zack Smith on waivers in your NHL rumor mill.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports long-time Senators forward Zack Smith is “in shock” after the club placed him on waivers yesterday. But with three years and $9.25 million remaining on Smith’s contract, Garrioch believes he could pass unclaimed and remain on the Senators’ roster, considering it “highly doubtful” he’ll be demoted to their AHL affiliate. He checked with “league executives” yesterday, who said the chances of Smith getting picked up by another club weren’t good. Smith’s sub-par performance last season (19 points in 68 games) could also be a deterrent.
Garrioch also notes the Senators attempted to trade Smith last season, coming within a phone call of shipping him to an unnamed Western Conference club near the trade deadline before the deal fell through. It’s believed general manager Pierre Dorion revisited those trade talks this summer but interest was limited. The ask was the Senators take a contract in return, something they didn’t want to do. Garrioch speculates putting Smith on waivers might re-ignite trade talk.
Meanwhile, Don Brennan reported on the reaction by Smith’s teammates to the news. “I’ll be honest … it’s a kick in the balls for us,” said Matt Duchene. “That’s how it feels.” Mark Stone admitted he was surprised. “He’s been here ever since I’ve stepped foot in this organization,” said Stone. “He’s done a lot for me ever since I stepped in. He was one of the leaders for us at development camp when I was 18.”
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson cites an Eastern Conference scout suggesting it’s still possible Smith could be claimed off waivers. He also reports an assistant GM saying a trade could still be possible if Smith clears, provided the Senators are willing to take back a contract “at .50 cents on the dollar.”
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites NHL insider Darren Dreger yesterday telling Ottawa’s TSN 1200 he sensed there was interest in Smith by other clubs dating back to last season’s trade deadline and perhaps beyond. However, the Senators preferred draft picks in return and didn’t want to take back a salary. Dreger thinks the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers “kicked tires” last season but doesn’t believe the discussions went far.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So why all the fuss over the Senators waiving a veteran winger who struggled last season? Well, their woeful performance and off-ice dramas stretching back to last season certainly have a lot to do with it. So does their recent trades of Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman, and you could probably include last November’s Kyle Turris trade in that discussion.
The Senators are in the midst of an obvious roster tear-down. Placing Smith on waivers in what’s seen as a cost-cutting move stokes the headlines surrounding this club.
I also think this could have an effect upon the futures of Duchene and Stone, who are both eligible for unrestricted free agent status at season’s end. While Stone was diplomatic, Duchene seems angry by the move. If the Senators’ front office harbors hopes of re-signing those two, giving up a popular team leader like Smith through waivers won’t help matters.
If Smith goes unclaimed today and the Senators try to trade him, they’ll either have to absorb part of his $3.25-million cap hit or agree to take back a salaried player in return. I agree with Garrioch that it’s unlikely the Senators will find a trade partner willing to take on his full salary by giving up draft picks in return.
As for the Flames and Oilers, whatever interest they had last season has probably changed since then. The Flames made several notable offseason changes while Cap Friendly indicates the Oilers lack the salary-cap room to take on Smith’s cap hit.