The Detroit Red Wings have traded defenseman Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers for a third-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and a second round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, per Bob McKenzie. Smith is a pending unrestricted free agent and comes with a cap hit of $2.75 million. According to a report by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Smith rejected the Red Wings latest offer for a contract extension and the team wouldn’t increase their offer, leading to his trade to the Rangers who showed an interest in him as of late. The Red Wings confirmed the deal shortly thereafter.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 28, 2017
Smith has played in 33 games this season with the Red Wings, scoring two goals and five points to go along with a minus-1 rating. The former 27th overall pick from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft hasn’t quite lived up to his draft status, but he’s still a solid option for the Rangers in a depth role. In his career, Smith has 15 goal and 67 points in 291 games.
Smith is known more for his defensive play than his offensive skill-set. His career-high in goals and points in the NHL coming during the 2013-14 season when he scored five goals and 19 points in 71 games. He likely won’t contribute much on the offensive side of things for the Rangers as they push towards the playoffs and make another run the Stanley Cup, but his potential role as a depth defenseman on the team can’t be understated, especially giving the timing of what’s happened in recent days.
Good Timing by the Rangers
For the Rangers, this trade comes as a result of multiple factors. Many believed that New York would be the front-runners in any deal regarding pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Shattenkirk. Given the fact that the former-St. Louis Blue and current Washington Capitals defender was born and raised in New York, the ties made sense. As it stands, the Capitals were able to pull off the trade, leaving New York to turn to their plan B. Smith also comes on the same day that the Rangers announced that veteran defender Dan Girardi would miss at least 10-14 days with an ankle injury.
The Rangers hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 82 points. They sit just one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, and two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third and second place in the Metropolitan division respectively. To make room for Smith on the roster, the Rangers are reportedly sending Pavel Buchnevich to the AHL, per TSN’s Aaron Ward. It’s unclear how long Buchnevich will spend in the AHL given his impressive rookie season at just 21-years-old. The former third-round pick from 2013 is showing that he has a bright career in the NHL and it will be interesting to see if, and how the Rangers fit him back into their lineup.
For the Rangers, Smith is coming in as a rental player. The team could look to extend him ahead of July 1 before he becomes a free agent as a depth move, and it’s something both parties might be open to. The Rangers, however, could also keep their options open and re-visit Kevin Shattenkirk in the offseason should the Washington Capitals fail to re-sign the 28-year-old.
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Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.