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Marchessault, Smith: Messy exits from Panthers 'water under the bridge'

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

Vegas Golden Knights forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith aren't harboring any bad blood toward the Florida Panthers as the pair gear up to battle their former team in the Stanley Cup Final.

Marchessault was the Golden Knights' expansion draft pick from Florida in 2017, and the Panthers also sent Smith to Sin City in a separate trade that day to protect blue-liners Aaron Ekblad, Alexander Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, and Keith Yandle. Ekblad is the only player of the bunch still with the team.

"It's water under the bridge," Marchessault said, according to's Nick Cotsonika. "Yeah, I was disappointed at the time, but it's six years ago now, so it doesn't bother me anymore."

He added, "I was surprised at the decision, but that's the way she goes sometimes. Keeps you honest."

Marchessault was fresh off a breakout 30-goal campaign when the Panthers left him exposed for the league's 31st franchise to take for free. He's now the Golden Knights' all-time leader in games played (432), goals (150), and points (348).

Smith signed a five-year extension with the Panthers in 2016 but was moved before the deal kicked in. He's proceeded to rack up 286 points in 399 games with the Golden Knights and signed a three-year deal to stay in Vegas last summer.

"Obviously, it turned out great," Smith said. "And I wouldn't have changed it for anything in the world."

"My life has changed a lot over the last six years," he added. "It's been a great change for me. Hopefully, I can play the rest of my career here in Las Vegas."

Marchessault and Smith played key roles during the Golden Knights' first run to the Stanley Cup Final - a loss to the Washington Capitals - in their inaugural season and are two of six players who remain from the original roster.

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