Brendan Smith Finalizing Extension with Rangers

The New York Rangers are reportedly close to finalizing a deal that extends defenseman Brendan Smith for four years, with a cap hit of $4.35 million. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause as well.

The 28-year-old left-handed defenseman was acquired just prior to the 2017 trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2017 third-round pick and Ottawa’s 2018 second-round pick (from the Mika Zibanejad trade).

In his 18 regular season games with the Rangers, he earned four points (one goal, three assists). He played the highest regular season 5-on-5 ice time of any other player on the Rangers since coming to New York (313.67 minutes) and was used on several different pairs.

Smith emerged as a key piece of the defense in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the third-pair with Brady Skjei. Along with his four assists, his defensive abilities were highlighted – with the lowest Corsi against per 60 (57.37), shots against per 60 (28.24), and goals against per 60 (1.19). Plus, his 3.57 goals for per 60 was the second highest on defense. In addition, he was the most effective defenseman in suppressing high-danger shot attempts and goals against.

Overall Smith strengthened the Rangers’ weak blue line with his strong defensive play, physical edge, and glimpses of offense.

Since the return for Smith was steep, it appeared that Smith was in general manager Jeff Gorton’s future plans. Now that he is re-signed, the question remains where on the team he will play. Of the left-handed defensemen (McDonagh, Skjei, Staal, and Holden), Smith appears to be the most capable of playing on the Rangers’ open right side. With this extension, it looks more likely than not that Smith will become a fixture in the defense’s top four.