CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Smith said Thursday he was happy linemate Brandon Bollig received a recent contract extension, but he hasn’t had any contract talks with the organization himself.
The 25-year-old Smith will be a restricted free agent after the season and is the team’s lone fourth-line player without a contract going forward. The Blackhawks announced a three-year extension for Bollig on Monday, and Marcus Kruger signed a two-year contract in the summer.
“I haven’t heard anything about [my future,]” Smith said on Thursday. “It’s great for Bollig. I’m happy to hear he’s going to be back for three years. He’s a great player and a great teammate. As for me, I guess that stuff will wait for whenever that stuff gets sorted out. I’m more focused on what’s going on here the last 19 games, hopefully a long playoff run.”
Smith said his future has been in the back of his mind, but he wasn't worrying about it now.
“I think it always is when it’s your contract year for any player,” Smith said. “For me, focusing on what’s going on now and letting the future take care of itself.”
Smith, Bollig and Kruger have provided Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville a steady fourth line. Quenneville has stuck with the trio on that line most of the season and has often used it against the opponents’ top lines.
Smith has taken advantage of his first long-term shot in the NHL. He hadn’t previous played more than 13 games in a season. He has eight goals, 11 assists and a plus-four rating in 56 games this season.
Smith said he could see the benefit of keeping together his line for future seasons.
“It’s always a positive when you have fourth-line guys who can play and have the chemistry we have so far,” Smith said. “We want to continue to prove that moving forward. Thinking about that, it’d be nice to have guys who have been together for four months or so. When it’s time for those decisions to be made, they’ll be thought out, but just focusing on the rest of the season right now.”
Smith said he would like to remain with the Blackhawks if given the choice. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round in 2008.
“Absolutely,” Smith said. “I think anyone who has played here in Chicago wants to stay here and be here. Just the way we’re treated, the coaching staff, from the trainers, pretty much from the owners down, it’s a class organization. Obviously would love to stay here.”