Smith, Blackhawks talking new contract

Ben Smith worked his way into a key role for the Blackhawks last season. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Ben Smith have had initial discussions about a new contract and are expected to meet again in the near future, according to Smith’s agent.

Smith, 25, is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1. Smith and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said after this past season they hoped to agree on a new contract. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2008.

“We’ve had a couple of preliminary conversations with the Hawks but that’s it at this point,” Smith’s agent Jerry Buckley of Buckley Sports Management wrote in an email on Wednesday. “I expect to continue conversations with them in the near future.”

Smith is coming off his first full season in the NHL. He was used in a variety of roles throughout the season. He played mostly a defensive role at right wing on the fourth line, but also saw time as the center on the second line and played on the penalty kill. He had 14 goals, 12 assists and was a plus-3 in 75 regular-season games and had four goals, two assists and was a plus-5 in 19 playoff games.

Bowman was complimentary of Smith after the season.

“Ben had a great season,” Bowman said on June 3. “Hat’s off to him for a guy who’s been waiting to take his turn. He started hoping to make the team and here we are, nine months later, he’s one of the regular players in overtime of Game 7 of the [Western] Conference final. He’s done well and I think he’s shown that progression. Now over the next few weeks, we’ll sit down with the agent and talk about making it all work out.”

Smith also said he wanted to return to the Blackhawks.

“Obviously, some unfinished business,” Smith said on June 3. “This is the place where you want to be. So for me, it’s pretty soon after everything that happened, and there hasn’t been much thought put into it, but this is where you want to be.”