Player Spotlight: Zack Smith
(Editor's note: As the 2012-13 season draws closer, ottawasenators.com will take a daily snapshot look at some of the returning players from last year, with both a look back and a look ahead).
2011-12 stats: 81 GP, 14 G, 12 A, 98 PTS, 56 PIM, +4 rating
Last season: After helping lead the Binghamton Senators to an AHL Calder Cup crown in 2010-11, Smith showed he could also produce offensively at the NHL level. He established new career highs in games played (81), goals, assists and points, and enjoyed a trio of multi-point games along the way. The 24-year-old native of Maple Creek, Sask., also became a valuable member of the Ottawa penalty-killing unit and was one of three Senators (Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra were the others) to notch at least two shorthanded goals last season. Smith, a third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was named the Molson Cup three-star award winner for the month of November.
The highlight: The Senators' first visit to Winnipeg in more than a decade also proved to be quite eventful for Smith. In a Nov. 29 contest at the MTS Centre, his first career NHL power-play goal proved to be the game-winner in a 6-4 triumph over the reborn Jets. Smith finished with a two-goal game — also a first in the NHL — and registered the winning goal for a second consecutive game.
Looking forward: Look for Smith to continue to solidify his role as the team's third-line centre. Given his breakout season offensively in 2011-12, it's also quite likely those totals will grow in the campaign to come. At 6-2 and 212 pounds, Smith also brings a physical presence to the rink and, given the off-season departures of Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner via free agency, he'll no doubt be counted on even more in that area.
Quote: "I've got a lot more confidence, especially after playing in Binghamton in the playoffs (in 2011). I got to play a more offensive role and I've come up here and it feels like the coach has more confidence in me ... To be successful offensively, you have to take chances. That's maybe not something you're willing to do as much if you think that if you make a mistake, you're going to get sent down the next day."