May 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Brandon Sutter (16) and Ottawa Senators center Zack Smith (15) battle for position during the first period in game two of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Making the Grade: Zack Smith

ZACK SMITH

Season Review – After a great first half of 2011-12 and a sub-par 2nd half (at least offensively), this was a big year for Zack Smith to show his true colors.  Would he prove to be able to score at a 15-20 goal pace or would he be pegged as that reliable defensive player who can add toughness but not much offense.  Well, even when given the opportunities to play higher in the lineup, Smith struggled to put up points.  In 48 games he managed just 4 goals and 15 points.  So I guess that question is answered and the Senators know what they have.

 

Playoffs – Smith managed just a goal and an assist in 10 playoff games, and was actually shifted to the wing after Jason Spezza returned for the last 3 games against the Penguins.

 

Contract Status – Smith, like Kyle Turris, signed a contract extension last summer that kicks in for next season.  It is a 4 year, $7.55M contract that carries a cap hit of just under $1.89M

 

Importance To Franchise – Definitely not an untouchable, and with the emergence of Mika Zibanejad and Jean-Gabriel Pageau late in the season, his role might be diminished to nothing more than a 4th line rotation.

 

Needs to Improve – While he will never be a top point producer, he needs to contribute more at that end.  More troubling is the -9 he posted this season.  If he can’t be counted on in his own end, then his spot on the roster could be in question.

 

Grade -  C-  Every center on the team played out of position, but Smith missed out on a chance to step up and show he could be a prime time player for this team.

 

What grade would you give Zack Smith for his performance in the 2013 Season?

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