Should the New York Rangers re-sign Brendan Smith?

The year is 2017 – the Rangers suffered a heart breaking six game series loss to the Ottawa Senators. They extend Brendan Smith to a market friendly contract, they sign the big fish Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei was coming off a solid rookie showing; what could go wrong?

Everything…

Fast forward and only one of those three are with the organization. The biggest albatross of the three. The guy that fought his teammate, Vinni Lettieri after a demotion to the minors; leading to a broken hand and the end of his season. The $4.2 million dollar defenseman that couldn’t play over Ryan Sproul, Rob O’Gara or Steve Kampfer; he is the only one remaining.

A reincarnation came last season as a forward when his game proved to be–palpable – at best. With his contract up after this season should the Rangers re-sign number 42?

Brendan Smith provides depth & grit

Look, is it the “sexy” retention? No, it isn’t, but Smith is going to keep bringing something the Rangers need; depth and grit. Smith would be a solid choice to play seventh defense in case the plethora of youngsters cannot take that step.

new york rangers trade rumors
Mar 9, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith (42) takes the ice to warm up against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, Smith brings a hard hitting element that isn’t just stepping up in the neutral zone. Smith is the type of player to ‘press Y’ and shed the mitts from time to time. Is that the end all be all? No, but currently, the only other player on the roster consistently ready to do the same is Brendan Lemieux. It’s important and it matters, not extensively, but it matters.

Related: The Rangers and the NHL Trade Deadline

All Cap No Kizzy

For the first time in quite a while, probably my lifetime (I’m an old 26), the team will have cap space, AND will be ready to take the next step. As far as depth d-men go, Smith will be on the younger side, but also on the cheaper side. Players like Alex Edler or Jordie Benn would essentially be another Jack Johnson signing, Smith would go for around $1.2 million, which again is Jack Johnson money but a better player in the same role. The team can afford that seeing as how they’ll have nearly $26 million in cap, going into the summer.

Needless to say, Smith has not lived up to his contract. But he has saved his career by doing everything he’s been asked to do and making the most of his opportunity. He went from fighting teammates to being an (again) palpable partner with Libor Hajek, who couldn’t even crack the lineup to start the year. He’s a veteran and the team is still incredibly young, plus we’re not sure still what next season looks like in terms of schedule or taxi squad / post – covid protocols. He’s the perfect depth signing and they already know he’s a moderate fit.

Or they could also see if Marc Staal would fill that role? Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

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