The Blackhawks finally unloaded Artem Anisimov on Tuesday after months of speculation, sending the advanced forward to the Senators in exchange for the similar but cheaper Zack Smith.
Smith and Anisimov are both 31-year-old centers, and the Forms will probably lock into the same spot on the third line that the laughter previously filled in Chicago.
But the difference in their contracts – hit $ 3.25 million cap hit for the next two seasons; Anisimov a $ 4.55 million cap hit for the same time period – gives the Hawks a valuable extra $ 1.3 million. They now have the space to comfortably resign RFA Brendan Perlini, who is projected to get about $ 2 million, and have room for call-ups during the season.
Smith is also better at the faceoff dot, an area that GM Stan Bowman identified as an area in need of improvement this summer (the Ryan Carpenter signing on July 1
Smith has won slightly over 50 percent or 2,778 draws over the past four seasons; Anisimov has only won 45.2 percent or 3,706 draws.
The downside comes in the pure scoring department. Outside of a fluky 25-goal eruption in 2015-16, Smith has never seen more than 16 goals and 32 points in a season. He scored nine goals and 28 points in 70 games this past year.
Anisimov, despite the bad reputation of his contract, has regularly exceeded those scoring totals. He registered 15 goals and 37 points in 78 games last season and had previously hit the 20-goal plateau in three straight seasons.