Some fans might see the name Zack Smith, scratch their head and wonder “who?”. However, name value is not all it is cracked up to be when your team is up against the salary cap.
Smith does not have stats that will wow anyone. His signing would not move the needle on sports talk radio or on social media.
That does not mean it would be a bad signing. In fact, if things elsewhere go the way some have suggested, Smith would be a decent alternative.
Interestingly, the man Smith could potentially replace was a name listed in the free agents the Hawks could look at. Most Blues fans would love to keep Tyler Bozak as a person and a player, but the finances seem unlikely to work out.
Couple the money with Bozak being 35 and it’s reason to let him walk. While he would not provide as much upside, Smith could be a valuable replacement.
Smith brings a similar body. He’s listed at 6’2, 208 lbs compared to Bozak being 6’1 and 199 lbs.
Like Bozak, Smith is pretty good in the faceoff circle. Smith’s percentage is not as good as Bozak, but he’s a high-volume faceoff taker and still usually wins close to 50% of the draws.
Smith isn’t quite as offensively gifted as Bozak, but he’s put up decent numbers at his peak. He would likely be brought in as a fourth-line center or to fill in on the third line anyway, so you’re not requiring quite as much as Bozak.
Additionally, Smith is four years younger and his 2021 contract was almost $2 million cheaper. That’s not to say he’d be that much cheaper in 2021-22, but every dollar will count going forward.