When it comes to a top-six player, expectations are usually high. Over his first two seasons with Vegas, Reilly Smith has a total of 113 points (41 goals, 72 assists) in 141 games. He averaged 21 goals and 36 assists per season.
Coming into the season, projections were about the same, 20 goals and 35 assists. However, Smith exceeded anyone’s expectations in this shortened 2019-20 season, passing career highs in goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals, and shooting percentage. He earned every bit of his $5M annual salary pitching in .76 points per game.
One of Smith’s season highlights was a beautiful, breakaway backhand goal he scored on December 2nd against the New York Rangers.
Seems like I’ve gotten a lot of breakaways this year. I’ve done that move four or five times, and I’ve gotten lucky. I think it worked on a few. It’s probably one of those things that I’ll probably go back to. Hopefully, none of the goalies in the league are listening to this interview. -Reilly Smith
His backhand was so effective that his brother stole the move four days later.
We did it a week apart, and with him playing forward this year, in the past he hadn’t had as many breakaways. He made it look a lot better than I did. It is pretty cool that we did it in the same week.- Reilly Smith
Smith added six game-winning goals, which led the Golden Knights this season. With production down from William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, the right-winger made up for the missing points. On four separate occasions, Smith scored two goals in a game including the game-winning goal. In two of those games he also netted a shorty.
10/02 vs SJ: 2 Goals (1 shorthanded, 1 game-winning goal)
11/05 @ CBJ: 2 Goals (1 shorthanded, 1 game-winning goal)
02/22 vs FLA: 2 Goals (1 game-winning goal)
02/28 vs Buffalo: 2 Goals (1 game-winning goal)
With the regular season paused, Smith’s 2019-20 totals put him third on the team with 54 points, second with 27 goals, fifth with 27 assists, and third with +17 plus/minus rating. Keep in mind Smith is seventh on the Golden Knights payroll, which was a bargain for the numbers he accrued.
Oh, and he has two years remaining on his contract. So there’s still time to match and pass this season’s production.