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NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Ben Smith Should Be Able To Crack The Regular Lineup

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a tough road back recently for Ben Smith.

He was a playoff hero for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010-11 season, scoring a gigantic overtime goal to help force a Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks. But we haven’t seen too much of him at the top level since, and it’s not because of any sort of lack of ability.

Skating for the Hawks in the preseason at the beginning of the 2011-2012 campaign, Smith suffered a concussion. By the time he was recovered, there wasn’t really room for him and he spent the majority of the season with the Rockford Icehogs. That wasn’ the end of his injury woes.

Smith also had a nagging hip injury throughout the spring, which cost him his season and didn’t allow him to return until the Icehogs opened their season. Back in Rockford and completely healthy, having played all 37 games for them so far this year, Smith is ready to make the jump back to the Blackhawks.

But will there be room for him?

From a numbers standpoint, there actually isn’t. The Hawks have just about a full roster. But Ben Smith may actually be a better option than some that are already on the roster.

Smith obviously isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, but he plays bigger than he is. He rarely backs down. He’s an extremely hard worker and is willing to work down around the front of the net and in the corners, which is something that can be an asset to any team, especially the Blackhawks.

He’s also a responsible player. He’s not going to put up a ton of points, but he’s going to be a solid two-way player, on either side of whichever center he would be playing with. He’d be the perfect guy to add to a line next to superstar players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. That’s something we’ve seen before, but the sample space was small.

It’s only a matter of time before we see Ben Smith back with the Blackhawks. It may even be just a matter of shuffling the roster around next week to get him in the lineup for the 2013 season to begin. Regardless of the situation or the timing, we will see Ben Smith back in Chicago this year, hopefully sooner rather than later.