Zack Smith is staying an Ottawa Senator.
The Maple Creek native signed a four-year contract on Jan. 23 worth $3.25 million per season with the team.
“It was definitely a relief to get the deal done,” Smith told the Maple Creek News.
Contract discussions began in the summer of 2016 and felt slow-moving, according to Smith.
The 28-year-old is coming off a career year, scoring 25 goals and 36 points. He’s on pace for a career high in points this season scoring 12 goals and 23 points in 44 games so far.
The hard-nosed forward has played all 444 games of his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. Being able to spend all that time with one organization is a rarity in the league.
“It’s really special for me and my fiancée. It’s a great city, I love playing in Canada and the organization has been great to guys who have stuck around and played most of their career there.”
Plenty of people from Maple Creek have been reaching out to Smith since the news of his new contract broke, he said.
“Lots of friends and family have texted me the past few weeks to say congrats and wish me well.”
Currently Smith’s Senators sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 57 points in 46 games. The success the team has had this season and the future outlook for the squad made Smith want to stick around, he said.
“Seeing the direction the team was going was definitely one of the biggest influences to me staying here.
“To know they have trust in me and that I’m part of the big picture moving forward is huge [too],” he said.
In his 400-plus career games, Smith has scored 76 goals, 61 assists and racked up 530 penalty minutes. He’s added one goal and two assists in 23 playoff games as well.
In his first game after signing the new deal, Smith scored against the league-leading Washington Capitals in a 3-0 shutout win for the Sens.
“It was a big goal,” he said. “They’ve been one of the best teams in the league so it was a big game for us.”
The team’s goal at the start of the season was to make the playoffs. Smith says there’s no reason the team can’t be more successful then simply being a playoff team.
“We not only want to make the playoffs, we want to make a push and win the [Stanley Cup] here.”
After playing his junior hockey in Swift Current, Smith was drafted by the Senators in the third round (79th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.