2019-2020 NY Rangers Player Report Card: Brendan Smith

The most complicated report card this season is Brendan Smith. Do you grade Smith as a forward? A defenseman? A utility man? What about all three? How do you separate out his play at the different positions? It’s complicated, since even when he was a forward, he was a defenseman on the penalty kill.

Smith really was an every man for the Rangers this season. David Quinn was insistent on keeping him at forward at even strength, to which he at least performed admirably. Smith was eventually moved to defense after the Brady Skjei trade, becoming the Rangers top pairing LD with Jacob Trouba. Smith’s offensive numbers were modest, posting a 3-5-8 line in 62 games.

Overall Game

Grading Smith is complicated. It’s not a surprise that Smith’s offensive numbers weren’t that great. He was mostly a fourth liner with minimal offensive opportunities and even worse linemates. He spent most of his time at forward with noted goal scorer Greg McKegg. Defensively, the Rangers were better with him on the. Not much of a surprise here either.

Smith was easily the second best left defenseman on the team once the Skjei trade was finalized. Granted that isn’t saying much, but he was certainly serviceable.

Was Better Once Moved to Defense

The above is Smith’s performance over time, which I felt was important when evaluating his entire performance this year. Smith was pretty terrible as a forward. But once he moved back to defense, which is that low point on the far right, he got instantly better. It was one of his sharpest upticks all year. There’s certainly an argument to be made that as a defenseman, he would have been just fine.

Smith’s future likely isn’t in New York next season. He won’t be remembered too fondly, mostly for his bad contract. But he was a serviceable defenseman when he actually played that position.

Brendan Smith Report Card Grade: C

Charts from Evolving-Hockey and Charting Hockey.

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  • In my opinion, Smith should have been used as a defenseman all year, splitting time with Staal until Brady was traded. My criticism of Smith is not his contract, which is the team’s fault. Instead it was his coming to camp terribly out of shape after signing that contract, necessitating his banishment to Hartford for a year. Since then, to his credit, he has done whatever the club has asked of him.

    I’d give the guy a C+ for doing a decent job at each of the jobs he was asked to perform and doing them competently, if not spectacularly. He does take a few too many unnecessary penalties though.

  • Smith is an over paid, but competent bottom pairing defenseman. When used in that role he is perfectly capable of playing regular minutes.

  • Smith’s original sin was getting the big contract after an impressive post season, getting married over the summer, partying all summer, and coming into camp out of shape. That let to terrible play and banishment to Hartford. And to a target on his back with the fan base.

    To his credit he subsequently worked hard to get in shape and has been the best version of himself after that disastrous post contract season. Unfortunately he is mediocre but he does whatever asked and does provide a physical element in short supply on the roster. Given the current state of our LHD I think he will likely finish out his contract next season and continue his career elsewhere. It appears he does have a place in the league, although not at his contract, and if the Rangers chose to trade him there does appear to be a market for him, especially since I recall his salary is less than his cap hit.

    All in I would give him a C+ (also).

  • I would give him a C+. He is overpaid but certainly a movable piece if we eat around a million. The salary due him is much lower than the cap number.

  • Of course, the assessment of Smith on defense is a bit unfair. He was the only defenseman who did not have his numbers dragged down by playing a substantial time in front of Lundqvist.

    On the other hand, at forward, Smith was lucky when he got to skate with McKegg, who is at least a pretty fair fourth liner. He spent a lot of time playing with Michael Haley and Lias Andersson – ouch!

    • Ray – I see what you did there!

      Covering all bases in a short post. Impressive!

      Particularly funny turning the Lias reference on it’s head (usual excuse for Lias is who he plays with).

    • That’s another thing. Who’s bright idea was it to bring Haley back? He’s a net negative everywhere. That IMO is one of the few blemishes on Gorton I can think of. We weren’t desperate for 4th line forwards. Why sign him??

  • Being Smith played forward as a utility man, I’d give him a C+/B-
    I’m no fan of his contract but aside from that he wasn’t the problem. He doesnt do much to Fix what ailed the team but he did his job.

  • Staal, Smith, and Lundquist…..if they go will determine where Rangers go.
    No more Shattenkirk $6 mil dead cap money…..and wil mean Kreider is gone
    next season.

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