The Panthers signed Reilly Smith to a five-year extension worth $25 million in 2016, but they dealt him just one year into the deal after he responded with just 15 goals and 37 points in 80 games, making double-digit declines in both of those categories compared to the year before. Consistency has been a problem for Smith, who's been on a roller coaster in terms of point totals in his past four seasons -- he's cracked 50 points twice in that span, but hovered around 40 in the other two campaigns. With the Golden Knights, Smith is assured a top-six role and a spot on the top power-play unit, but he won't have any elite playmakers to set him up unless his young teammates develop very quickly. Only eight of his 15 goals were scored at even strength last year, though it is promising that he has four consecutive seasons of double-digit power-play points. His historical trend says Smith will have a bounce-back season, but it'll be difficult to accomplish under the circumstances.
Smith has been traded by the Panthers to the Vegas Golden Knights, Frank Seravalli of TSN reports. Taking Smith and his $5 million cap hit over the next five years was the price the Golden Knights had to pay to acquire 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault in the expansion draft. Smith tallied just 15 goals and 37 points for the Panthers last season. He figures to be in for a bump in playing time in the desert, but it remains to be seen if a rise in production is in the cards. Florida will also receive the Golden Knights' fourth-round selection in 2018. This was a straight salary dump by the Panthers.
Smith is available for Vegas' taking since he was left off Florida's protected list for Wednesday's expansion draft, the Miami Herald reports. The Ontario native signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Panthers ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, but he didn't give the Cats a strong return on the investment right off the bat. Compared to the previous year, Smith posted 10 fewer goals and went from a plus-19 rating to a minus-13 mark. He also didn't shoot as often, and only converted on 9.4 percent of shots that he did take. The Panthers exposing Smith seems like a clear sign of buyer's remorse.
Smith scored a goal Saturday in a 7-0 win over Chicago. Smith has started to pick up the pace a bit lately and has five points in his last 10 games. It's his 13th goal of the season.
Smith recorded two assists -- one on the power play -- during Friday's loss to Calgary. With the Panthers back at full health, Smith has slotted in with Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen at five-on-five again, and the offensive results are back. Smith has a goal and seven assists through his past nine games, and he checks out as a serviceable fantasy asset going forward. Don't forget the 25-year-old winger posted a 25-goal, 50 points campaign last year, so there is ample upside for a strong finish to the year.
Smith assisted on the game-winning goal against St. Louis on Monday. Smith had a solid three-year stretch with 58 goals and 141 points leading into 2016-17, including a 25-goal, 25-assist campaign last season. He's been an offensive afterthought this year, though, as the 25-year-old winger has just 10 goals and 25 points through 56 games. Still, it wouldn't be overly surprising if Smith finished the season strong. Florida is now fully healthy and has won five consecutive games, and Smith is locked into a top-six role with power-play looks on the No. 2 unit.
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