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Friday, June 20, 2014
Hawks player reviews: Ben Smith

By Scott Powers

Ben Smith
Ben Smith played well once again in the playoffs for the Blackhawks.

Ben Smith, Forward


2013-14 cap hit: $562,500| Age: 25 | Season stats: 14 goals, 12 assists, plus-3

Season recap: Smith finally got a chance to be a full-time NHL player, and he took advantage of it. His versatility allowed him to play a key defensive role on the fourth line, but also play other roles, including second-line center, when he was asked to by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

Season highlight: Smith has a history of playing well in the playoffs, and he did so again. He scored a goal in each of the Blackhawks' wins in Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Season lowlight: Smith wasn't guaranteed a lineup spot, and he was a healthy scratch at times early in the season. It wasn't until early November until he began playing every day.

Final grade: B.

Inside the numbers: Smith was second on the team with a plus-12 in penalties draw, according to extraskater.com.

Notes: Smith is the only Blackhawks' selection in the 2008 draft to still be in the organization. He was drafted in the sixth round.

Quotes: "First and foremost you have to focus on your game and try and improve," Smith said after the season. "The fitting-in part will come along with that. It's an organization here with a lot of depth, and it takes a lot of time to try and break in. I'd like to say I've gotten close to that, or if not having done that -- it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of time. It takes longer probably in this organization than guys want it to take. For me this year coming in, I felt ready, I felt prepared, and that's where the trying to fit in and find a place came in. That's constantly evolving and changing, but definitely improving your game first helps, and then from there, you try and find a place to fit in."

What's next: Smith is a restricted free agent. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he is interested in re-signing Smith. If that happens, Smith, Marcus Kruger and Brandon Bollig could make up the fourth line again next season.