The Vegas Golden Knights have 43 players under team control as we head toward training camp. Of the 43, there’s just one player with a contract extended beyond the team’s third year in existence, and that player is Reilly Smith.
The 26-year-old winger was acquired via trade during the Expansion Draft from the Florida Panthers. But it wasn’t an expansion trade like the ones including Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, or Nikita Gusev, instead, the Golden Knights and Panthers made a straight player-for-pick deal that involved absolutely no Expansion Draft considerations.
Vegas Golden Knights receive:
Florida Panthers receive:
2018 4th Round Pick
Smith’s contract is a bit of an albatross when you consider his production a year ago. 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) is hardly enough to warrant a five-year deal worth $25M with a modified no trade clause. But, the season prior, he scored 25 goals, tallied another 25 assists, posted a +19 rating, and a CF% of 52.5%.
Many figured the reason for selecting the best player off the Panthers expansion list, Jonathan Marchessault, and trading for Smith was a directive from head coach Gerard Gallant. But, in the case of Smith, there’s a distinct connection to George McPhee that may have played an even bigger part than the simple “he played well for our coach” idea.
During the 2015-16 NHL playoffs, Reilly Smith was a member of the Florida Panthers, playing on the second line with Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad. Their opponent in the first round, the New York Islanders.
The series was won by the Isles in 6, but during Games 1, 2, and 3, Smith scored four goals, had four assists, and a +7 rating. In a pretty good offensive career to this point, the first three games of the 2015-16 postseason are undoubtedly the shining moment in Smith’s six-year career.