Rangers Have Unlikely Contributors In Smith And Haley

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Let me get this out of the way before anyone decides to call the cavalry on me and label something that I don’t agree with here.

Brendan Smith and Micheal Haley are not a part of the Rangers’ future.

That being said, both players have contributed to the team this season more than most would think. One player has served as a checking forward who can be used in multiple positions in different situations, and the other has been a spark plug and a player who shown never to back down.

Versatility As A Last Resort

Last season, the Rangers decided to toy around with the idea of using Brendan Smith as a checking, bottom-six forward. Being that New York has a log jam of young defensemen, his poor play as a defender left him with no other option if he wanted to remain on the big club. Smith took this role and decided to run with it. He played well, sticking in as a fourth-line forward for the big club, including scoring a goal of his own on the final day of the season.

Before this season, outside of a few guaranteed spots, many players had to fight for their spots, including Smith. His showing on defense during the pre-season was less than stellar, but his willingness to slip into whatever role the Rangers wanted him to go in is what made him earn his spot. As the season began, he continued his solid play as a hybrid forward/defenseman from last season and has been one of the few bright spots on a team that has had many ups and downs in this campaign.

Whenever he goes out on the ice, he plays hard. Having a strong frame, he uses it as any other fourth-line forward would in his situation. No one expects him to light up the lamp. He kills penalties (he also doesn’t take many, with only 13 as this article is written), and if we’re going with numbers here, he’s only a -2 so far in the plus/minus category. Even with a small sample size of being a bottom-six forward, that’s great.

For someone that everyone seems to dislike, he seems to be getting the job done in the role he’s given.

An Unlikely Spark Plug

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When Micheal Haley was brought back by the Rangers for camp, everyone anticipated (including myself) that he was brought mainly for depth in Hartford. In camp, he played well and with a ton of intensity. What no one expected was that he’d make the team out of camp. Although he hasn’t played every game, as he’s split time with Greg McKegg, Haley, in his limited role, has given the Rangers a spark plug when they’ve needed it.

In his role, he’s played a tough but fast game in his limited time on the ice. Even though he’s only a fourth liner, you can notice when he is on the ice. On some occasions, when most of the Rangers were listless, Micheal Haley was one of the few who was consistently at a high level when he went out for his shifts. His two fights, one with Patrick Maroon of the Tampa Bay Lightning and one with Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators, have given the Rangers a boost, and both games were won by New York. Each of those games, the Rangers played hard after said fights, especially against Tampa Bay, which set off a flurry of goals. It may not have been the direct result of the fight, but the energy and uptick in attitude after a fight definitely contributed to that, and that’s what Haley can bring.

He’s even scored a goal to help his cause and the Rangers cause as well. Who would have predicted that?

So What Does This Mean?

Both Smith and Haley have done admirably in their limited roles. Both have played hard and responsibly with what they have been given. It’s also worth noting that both are veterans of this league, so their play and influence go further than just what’s on the ice. The contributions of skilled veterans like Trouba, Panarin, Kreider, Lundqvist, and Zibanejad are just as significant as the contributions of guys like Smith and Haley for the young guns of this team. Players learn from all types of personalities and playstyles, and that is important for the development of those who will lead this club. Smith’s versatility and responsible play, along with Haley’s intensity, may not be around for long but are things the up and comers would want to emulate and add to their already strong skill sets.