Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senators Forward Zack Smith Eager to Show off His Offensive Flair

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senators Forward Zack Smith Eager to Show off His Offensive Flair

Article excerpt

Smith ready to take offensive chances

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OTTAWA - Zack Smith believed he was capable of more, but just needed an opportunity to prove it.

Last season the Ottawa Senators forward turned heads when he posted career numbers with 25 goals and 36 points. Suddenly the player known for his defensive abilities was showing an offensive flair, and this season he's determined to prove it wasn't an anomaly.

"I've always been a late bloomer in everything I've done so I'm 28 now and I don't feel I've been playing near my best hockey yet so it's nice to be getting better every year," said the Maple Creek, Sask., native. "Now getting a chance to play not only regular PK, but on the power play too, which is something I haven't had an opportunity to play in a long time. I think last year was a big step in that I can produce offensively if put in that role."

The problem is Smith, who has played over 400 NHL games, has rarely been given offensive opportunities.

Drafted in the third round, 79th overall, by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft as a 19-year-old, Smith made a strong first impression at his first camp and was the final cut before being assigned to the Binghamton Senators, where he had 24 goals and 48 points.

Smith made a strong impression when recalled in January of the following season and played in all six playoff games. In 2010-11 Smith was recalled three different times, but felt his greatest development came from Binghamton's playoff run that resulted in a Calder Cup.

"I really liked Zack as a player and a person," said former Senators head coach Cory Clouston, who also coached Smith in Binghamton. "Zack was a third or fourth liner for me in Ottawa. He was young and wasn't ready for top six, but in Binghamton as a rookie I used him as a top six forward.

"He scored 24 goals as a 20-year-old rookie and I saw a lot of offensive upside in him. He showed he had that potential offensively with me in Binghamton and is now starting to show it in the NHL which is great."

In 2011 Smith signed a two-year, one-way contract, but was clearly identified as a checking centre playing mostly on the third or fourth line. …

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