The Rangers Should Buy Out Brendan Smith
Buyout season is upon us and all fingers are pointed in the direction of Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith.
The first contract buyout period begins tonight at 12:01 am… ends on June 30th.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) June 14, 2018
The former first-rounder that the Blueshirts traded for in February of 2017 didn’t pan out like the team had hoped. After registering four points in 18 games to round out his first look as a Ranger, the organization felt like they saw enough to sign Smith to a four-year extension, with an average salary of $4.35 million.
The first season of this contract was a disaster. Smith played only 44 games and registered a minuscule eight points. Take away his lack of offensive production, because he is a defenseman after all, and the defensive play that was there in the playoffs a season ago, went AWOL to start the season. Smith found himself being sent down to the AHL Wolf Pack since he had such problems playing in the big leagues.
So, is Brendan Smith worth buying out? Smith is signed through 2021, taking a cap hit of his full $4.35 million per season until his contract expires. For a guy who is signed for the next three seasons with a decent hit, it would make sense for the Rangers to buyout Smith. If the buyout is used, Brendan Smith’s cap hit will decrease by over $3 million per season with the average cap hit number being at just under $1.1 million. For a team that has a surplus in cap space now that they are in a rebuild, there is a different reasoning on why the Rangers should get rid of Smith while they have the chance.
Smith’s $4.35 million cap hit isn’t all that important to the Rangers at their current state heading into this season. But while in a rebuild, wouldn’t you rather see young guys trying to earn a roster spot get playing time compared to a 29-year-old Smith who has shown how inconsistent he can be? The Rangers are trading for picks and young players, and have plenty of picks in this upcoming years draft to gain more defensive help, so to have Smith in the starting lineup would just seem to be a waste of space. Of course, you need NHL-established players to lead by example, but guys like Kevin Shattenkirk and Brady Skjei can take that lead on the back end. Even though Smith has shown that he could be versatile, playing either the right or left side of the defense, his roster spot can be used for a guy who can hopefully show the team that he’s worth the playing time. The players that should be seeing all of that time are Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, John Gilmour, and others who need the experience to fully develop.
The Rangers goals for the next couple of seasons shouldn’t be to just ride out contracts. It isn’t necessarily winning either, although it may seem foolish to say that winning isn’t always the goal. This organization is rebuilding, which means that young faces should fill up the roster. It’s time for the Rangers to test out that farm system of theirs, and not lose a prospect’s roster spot just because you signed a guy to an extension too soon.