Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Reilly Smith in exchange for 2024 pick

Pittsburgh Penguins, Reilly Smith (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Reilly Smith (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

This week, we anticipated that the Pens would undergo some roster changes before or during the 2023 NHL Draft. True to expectations, the Pens have traded their 2024 third-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Reilly Smith.

Throughout the 2022-23 NHL season, it is noteworthy to mention that Reilly Smith, playing for the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights, exhibited his play in a total of 78 games. His extensive presence on the ice allowed him to accumulate an impressive tally of 56 points. Within this remarkable achievement. Smith’s exceptional play involved scoring 26 goals and supporting his teammates with 30 assists. Clearly, these statistics demonstrate the valuable impact he had on the team’s offensive capabilities.

Why trading for Reilly Smith makes sense for the Pens

In this offseason, you knew the team wanted to bolster its roster and support its aging core by acquiring forward Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights. This strategic move aligns perfectly with General Manager Kyle Dubas’s intentions of strengthening the Penguins’ bottom six. It is worth noting that the addition of Smith has the potential to fill the void on Evgeni Malkin’s line that impending free agent Jason Zucker may not be returning to Pittsburgh.

Comparing Zucker, aged 31 and earning $5.5 million, with Smith, aged 32 and signed for two more seasons at $5 million per year, it becomes apparent that the Penguins have acquired a player of similar caliber while reducing their financial commitment slightly.

When considering Zucker’s desire for a longer-term contract and a higher salary, Smith emerges as an attractive option. Moreover, Smith’s proficiency as a natural left wing addresses a pressing need for the Penguins, making him a valuable asset to the team. Additionally, the fact that Pittsburgh only had to surrender a third-round pick in next season’s draft further solidifies the rationale behind this trade.

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Final thoughts on this trade

Acknowledging the potential letdown among Penguins fans due to the improbable return of Zucker in this trade, it is a decision that can be justified. Although new young talent may not be joining the team, they are bringing on board a forward who holds similar statistics and remains contracted.

Additionally, they are adding to their ranks by incorporating a proven champion. Thus, this maneuver perfectly aligns with their ambitions to regroup for the NHL Playoffs in 2023, demonstrating its strategic nature for shaping future success for the team.

Next up, we see what the Pens do in the NHL Draft tonight, which should prove to be very interesting.