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Blackhawks trade Ben Smith to San Jose for Andrew Desjardins

Ben Smith has been traded to the San Jose Sharks, just two hours before the trade deadline, in exchange for center Andrew Desjardins, who is on an expiring contract. The Sharks will still pay half of Desjardins’ contract, meaning the Hawks freed up more than $1 million of salary-cap space with the move.

Smith has been one of the Hawks’ top penalty-killers, but has just five goals and four assists in 61 games this season, down from 14 goals and 12 assists last season. He was a healthy scratch twice in the past three weeks, and hadn’t scored since Dec. 20, with no points in his last 25 games. He has one year left on his contract after this season. He is expected to play for the Sharks tonight in San Jose.

“First off, I want to thank Ben for everything he did for the Blackhawks,” Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “He’s a tremendous guy. … For us, there’s the business side of the game that comes into it, and we’re looking at some salary-cap room and that was one of the things that made us look around, that maybe we can do something at this point in time to alleviate that going forward.”

Desjardins, 28, has five goals and three assists in 56 games with the Sharks. He’ll join the team for the next practice, likely on Wednesday.

“Desjardins brings an element that we like, as well,” Bowman said. “He’s a feisty player. He’s an in-your-face kind of guy. He’s a competitive player. The combination of the business side as well as acquiring a guy that — he’s a little bit bigger, he brings a different style to the game — is something that we like as we’re leading into crunch time here. He’s a very competitive kid. He’s very excited to come in here and play a role. Hopefully it’ll work out for both.”