Ottawa Senators veteran forward Zack Smith was placed on waivers Tuesday and his teammate Matt Duchene is not happy about it.
“I’ll be honest, it’s a kick in the balls for us," the forward told reporters regarding the somewhat surprising decision.
Head coach Guy Boucher said that if Smith clears waivers he will remain in the same spot in the lineup heading into the regular season.
"It’s a tough day for the players," said Boucher.
Smith is a 10-year NHL veteran and scored five goals and added 14 assists over 68 games in the nation's capital last season.
The 30-year-old winger, who had 25 goals in 2015-16 and 16 in 2016-17, is signed through 2020-21 and carries a $3.25 million cap hit - seventh-highest among Senators forwards.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, the Senators tried to trade Smith last season but would have been forced to take a contract back in return due to his cap hit.
Smith has spent his entire career with the Senators after the team selected him in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Duchene is entering his first full season with the Sens after they acquired him via a trade with the Colorado Avalanche early last season.
The 27-year-old scored 23 goals and 26 assists over 68 games in a Senators uniform in 2017-18.
Duchene is entering the final season of a five-year, $30 million contract and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if not signed to a new deal.