BRUCE ALMIGHTY

With Pha­neuf moved out, Se­na­tors’ Smith is try­ing to tune out trade spec­u­la­tion ... Don’t be sur­prised if DiDomenico is claimed off waivers ... Harpur might get called up

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - bgar­rioch@post­media.com Twit­ter: @sun­gar­rioch

The deal that sent Dion Pha­neuf to the Los An­ge­les Kings on Tues­day night likely hit home with Ot­tawa Se­na­tors winger Zack Smith.

While the 29-year-old Smith has spent his en­tire pro hockey ca­reer with the Se­na­tors’ or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter be­ing drafted in the third round in 2008, his name has been among many that have been men­tioned as po­ten­tial op­tions for deals be­fore the Na­tional Hockey League trade dead­line at 3 p.m. on Feb. 26.

If the Se­na­tors could find a way to get Pha­neuf’s $7.5-mil­lion cap hit for three more sea­sons off the books, then Smith’s $3.25-mil­lion cap hit through 202021 shouldn’t be an is­sue.

He won a Calder Cup with Bing­ham­ton of the Amer­i­can Hockey League in 2011 and es­tab­lished him­self in the NHL by earn­ing the trust of Se­na­tors coaches. Smith was also part of sev­eral Ot­tawa teams that have had suc­cess, but now he may be con­sid­ered ex­pend­able with the Se­na­tors shift­ing gears.

All Smith can do is try fo­cus on the job at hand.

“There’s un­cer­tainty and you think about it at times,” Smith said Tues­day’s 6-3 loss to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins. “It’s noth­ing that you can con­trol. You just try to come to the rink and play the best you can.”

Ig­nor­ing the noise is dif­fi­cult in this day and age. Smith might be stay­ing away from news­pa­pers and so­cial me­dia, but that hasn’t stopped fam­ily and friends. They read or hear the slight­est bits of spec­u­la­tion and im­me­di­ately pass it along.

“Ev­ery­one asks about it, and it just takes one per­son with any amount of fol­low­ers to start ru­mours and get ev­ery­one ask­ing you what’s go­ing on,” Smith said. “It’s kind of out­side noise, and a lot of times it’s just some­thing you talk about.

“We have to keep re­mind­ing friends and fam­ily that it’s just ru­mours. It hap­pens every year to the teams that aren’t in a play­off po­si­tion and they have to de­cide which di­rec­tion they’re go­ing to go, so it’s quite com­mon.”

Smith has been linked to the Cal­gary Flames, but sev­eral NHL teams are look­ing for a for­ward or two, in­clud­ing the New Jer­sey Devils, Bos­ton Bru­ins, Florida Pan­thers, Win­nipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks.

Smith would fit any­where be­cause, as Se­na­tors head coach Guy Boucher noted re­cently, he can play any­where in the lineup. He’s also valu­able be­cause he’s com­fort­able at cen­tre or wing and he’s good on face­offs.

Gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion has re­ceived lots of ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in Smith, so, if the Se­na­tors want to move him, they will have op­tions.

“If teams are in­quir­ing about me, it’s not be­cause I’m scor­ing goals. That’s quite ev­i­dent,” said Smith, who has four goals and 10 as­sists in 41 games. “Like you said, ver­sa­til­ity is prob­a­bly my big­gest as­set.

“I play left wing, I take a lot of draws, and I con­sider my­self a pretty good face­off guy and I can kill penal­ties. I think that’s what’s earned me the min­utes with this club and has given me the op­por­tu­nity to play dif­fer­ent roles. That started early for me. It started in ju­nior, when you have to adapt, and it’s worked to my ben­e­fit.”

THE LAST WORDS

Some of coach Guy Boucher’s favourite play­ers are headed out the door be­fore the trade dead­line. Cen­tre Nate Thomp­son, signed as a free agent last sum­mer par­tially be­cause of his prior re­la­tion­ship with Boucher, went to Los An­ge­les with Pha­neuf on Tues­day. For­ward Chris DiDomenico was placed on waivers Wed­nes­day. If he clears, he’ll be sent to the Se­na­tors’ Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate in Belleville, but don’t be sur­prised if a few NHL teams con­sider claim­ing DiDomenico, who has six goals and four as­sists in 24 games with Ot­tawa. He was plucked off waivers by the Tampa Bay Light­ning ear­lier this sea­son, but sub­se­quently re­claimed by the Se­na­tors ... The Se­na­tors sent winger Max McCormick, who played only 7:15 on Tues­day back to Belleville on Wed­nes­day. With Mar­ian Ga­borik and Shore ar­riv­ing in the deal with the Kings, the Se­na­tors don’t need any ex­tra for­wards … Ga­borik will wear No. 12 for the Se­na­tors, with Shore in No. 23 … The Se­na­tors could have winger Gabriel Du­mont (high an­kle sprain) back for Thurs­day’s game against the Sabres … Do­rion in­di­cated the Se­na­tors could re­call a de­fence­man from Belleville. It would make sense if it was Ben Harpur, who signed to a two-year con­tract ex­ten­sion last week … With points in three con­sec­u­tive games, de­fence­man Mark Borowiecki will at­tempt to do some­thing he hasn’t in his ca­reer by ex­tend­ing that streak to four games against the Sabres … If the Se­na­tors stick to the al­ter­nat­ing goalie sys­tem, Craig An­der­son will make the start Thurs­day. He played Tues­day in Pitts­burgh in re­lief of Mike Con­don, who had al­lowed four goals on nine shots.

JIM MONE/AP

Se­na­tors’ Zack Smith (right) tries to break free from the Wild’s Matt Dumba. Smith has a con­tract in place with the Se­na­tors through the 2020-21 sea­son.

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