NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In less than a month, Reilly Smith has gone from Stanley Cup champion to the newest member of the Pittsburgh Penguins after the Vegas Golden Knights traded the veteran forward for a 2024 third-round pick Wednesday.
The Golden Knights just won the first Stanley Cup in their six-year history. Smith, who was part of the first Vegas squad, was one of six players from the "Original Misfits."
Moving Smith, who scored 26 goals and 56 points this season, allows the Golden Knights to shed his contract to create cap space. Smith has two more years remaining on his deal at $5 million annually. CapFriendly projects that Vegas now has $8.462 million in available cap space.
Every Cup champion faces immediate questions, and for the Golden Knights, it was how they would manage their cap situation. They have a five-player unrestricted free agent class that is most notably led by playoff hero Adin Hill.
Another of their playoff heroes, Ivan Barbashev, agreed Wednesday to a five-year extension worth $5 million annually, avoiding free agency.
Barbashev came over at the trade deadline and was initially a stand-in for captain Mark Stone, who was recovering from a second back surgery in a year. Barbashev provided Vegas with another two-way forward who scored six goals and 16 points in 23 games. His impact was further enhanced in the playoffs when he scored seven goals and 18 points to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, having previously done it with the St. Louis Blues during the 2018-19 season.
Hill was with the team throughout the regular season, having worked in tandem with rookie All-Star goalie Logan Thompson. A late regular-season injury to Thompson, along with Laurent Brossoit getting injured in the second round, saw Hill emerge as one of the Golden Knights' most important players. Hill, who played in 16 games in the playoffs, went 11-4 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
Brossoit is also part of a UFA class that includes Teddy Blueger, Phil Kessel and Jonathan Quick. There is also the four-player restricted free agent class Vegas has that is most notably led by Brett Howden, who emerged into being a top-six option in the playoffs with five goals and 10 points in 22 games.
Getting Smith gives the Penguins, who missed the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons, a two-way forward who could also serve as a top-six option alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The 32-year-old just completed his 10th straight season of more than 13 goals while reaching the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his career.
His arrival could plausibly solve a few roster questions for Pittsburgh. CapFriendly projects the Penguins have a little more than $15 million in available cap space while they try to navigate a seven-player UFA class and a two-player RFA class.
Among the more notable players in Pittsburgh's UFA class is veteran forward Jason Zucker, whose 27 goals is the second-highest total in his career. The 31-year-old is a five-time 20-goal scorer who is in the final season of a five-year contract that saw him earn $5.5 million annually.