Maybe he rose too high too fast.
After his initial triumph in the postseason in 2010-2011, we haven’t seen much of Ben Smith with the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s the result of a combination of factors, though.
Smith exploded onto the scene with the Hawks at the end of that year. His first career goal came in a game against the Detroit Red Wings that the Blackhawks desperately needed to win in order to make the postseason. They would still need a ton of luck to actually make the playoffs that year, of course.
In the playoffs, Smith notched three goals against the Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game series. One of those was the Game 6 winner that forced the series to a decisive seventh game and nearly helped the Hawks steal a series that they had no business winning.
During the following preseason, a concussion set Smith back. Fighting for a spot on the roster, Smith wouldn’t see action until the end of November. Even after his callup, Smith wasn’t able to stick, playing in just 13 games on the season. A hernia and hip problems ended his season in March.
He’s expected to be completely healthy for training camp, whenever that happens. But will Ben Smith be able to crack the regular lineup with these Blackhawks, or will he be bound for the Rockford grind once again?
The Blackhawks signed Smith to a new two-year deal this summer, so they obviously plan on giving him another run at sticking. There are a few spots for the taking on the roster, unless some moves are made to complicate that once a new CBA is agreed upon.
Smith is the type of guy that will bring energy to the lineup. He’s not a big guy, obviously, but can still be a useful player in a bottom six role. For a team that could use some scoring in the bottom six, Ben Smith is going to get a nice long look. And I completely expect to see him early on.
He’s not big or physical, but that’s what the rest of the bottom six, and more specifically fourth line, are for. He’s not afraid of playing in the corners or down in front of the net. He’s a nice character to have in the locker room. With two or three spots open, we should see Smith return to the Hawks very early.