Should the NY Rangers still consider a Brendan Smith trade?

Since the beginning of last season, a Brendan Smith trade –specifically to Ottawa– seemed like a good bet. Smith has one year left on his contract at a $4.35 million cap hit, but only $2.35 million in real dollars. That makes him extremely marketable to teams like Ottawa, who lack defense depth and don’t want to add that much salary.

Unexpected Staal Trade

Believe it or not, the Marc Staal trade may have derailed any plans to trade Smith. The Rangers freed up more cap space in trading Staal than they would have by trading Smith. By keeping Smith, the Rangers ensure they have some depth outside of Jack Johnson in case of injury.

The plan on LD, at least what it looks like, is to have Tarmo Reunanen, Yegor Rykov, Libor Hajek, and K’Andre Miller compete for at least one spot on the blue line, possibly two. If all four show they need AHL time, then the Rangers would plug in both Smith and Johnson.

It’s also worth noting that Smith can at least play the position to a replacement level. He’s a viable option for 3RD if the Rangers do move Tony DeAngelo to the left side.

Injury and Roster Depth

Expanding on the kids, there is no sure bet that any of them earn their spot on the roster. It is expected that Miller needs AHL time. Hajek has been atrocious at the NHL level. Rykov had an injury riddled year, although is playing well in the KHL at the moment. Reunanen is a solid prospect, but still a relative unknown.

There is a non-zero percent chance that all four wind up in the AHL or abroad for this season. In that case, the Rangers need bodies to fill out the NHL roster. That’s where both Smith and Jack Johnson come into play. It won’t be pretty, but at least Smith can hold his own. Johnson is, at the very least, a warm body. There’s no need to rush the kids when this likely isn’t a true competitive year.

There’s also injury depth to consider. Regardless of who makes the roster, the Rangers won’t go a full year with six healthy defensemen. They will again need to plug in bodies to fill in minor injuries.

No Teams Need Cap Salary

This is another big one, as there are no teams that really need to get to the cap floor anymore. Ottawa, which was my big trade partner here, is at the cap floor with six defensemen, not including Erik Brannstrom. There are no other teams with major holes on defense that would consider adding Smith.

A Brendan Smith trade isn’t that likely anymore for all these reasons. It may actually be more beneficial for the Rangers to hold on to him. At the very least, he might keep Johnson out of the lineup, and do so while performing relatively well on a bottom pair.

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  • Smith is clearly better than Jack Johnson and can play the left and right sides equally, if only adequately. So if none of the kids mentioned seem ready to handle the NHL, which seems quite likely, he seems to have quite a bit of value to the Rangers.

    Also if the ADA transition to the left side fails Smith actually would be no worse than our 2nd best LHD, as sorry as that might be.

    The only way it makes sense to trade him is if someone takes his full cap hit and the cap space is used to acquire another valuable piece, or perhaps just to free up the performance bonus cap problem.

  • We need breathing room under the Cap to pay some of the kids’ bonus money. You have to get that money somewhere. If we sign Strome, is Lemiuex a goner? If not, then we need to look where else we can move salary and not too badly impact the team. IMO, this means a Smith trade must happen.
    We have enough defensemen that we can shelter the minutes of the kids.

    • “is Lemiuex a goner?”

      Brendan is already a contract nightmare waiting to happen… I miss the good ole days when the fans on here used to freak out when JT Miller and Kevin Hayes needed to be re-signed to new deals.. Proven 200 ft forwards who didn’t need a whole lot of opportunities to put up top 6 numbers… (Sigh)

      Brendan L doesn’t deserve to see long term contract north of 1.5 to 1.9 mill north for 3 years. There is a reason why Buffalo didn’t want him for their rebuild…

      Buch hasn’t earned to get paid north of 5 million yet ( I don’t care about MTL and Josh Andersson.

      Soon this place will have people thinking Lindgren is worth a Staal/Girardi contract….

  • At least Smith can in a pinch play both sides as well as up front on the 4th line. That makes him more valuable than Staal or JJ, so unless we find ourselves in a cap crunch (which I doubt) there’s no reason to trade him away at this time (but maybe at the trade deadline if one of the young LDs is truly ready).

    As far as the LD is concerned, rather than focus on kids like Hajek, Rykov, Miller, etc., it might be more likely that we move ADA to the left side and replace him with Nils Lundkvist on the right side. In that case I imagine you’ll get:

    JJ as the #7

    • tanto

      “At least Smith can in a pinch play both sides as well as up front on the 4th line”.

      There you go again, stealing my thunder, LOL.

      Yes Smith can play the wing in case of injuries, and is tough enough to go to fist city, and not be intimidated!

      If all goes as planned, Nils will be roaming the blue line for us this season, he is the real deal, tearing up the Swedish league…………..

    • Lundkvist straight up said that he plans to stay another year in Europe.. Rumors were supporting that before the virus became mainstream.

      Your top 4 sounds terribly bad for a medium-long term. Those pairs are the types that you put together in the middle of the game for 1-2 periods… Not going into the season unless if you hate Ignor and want to PUT EVEN MORE PRESSURE ON THE BOTTOM 9 lines… This team doesn’t have that many quality 200 ft forwards to pull those combinations off.

      Can you just imagine the Trouba-Lindgren pair against a good top 6 line?? Lol… The metro teams like Wash, Philly, Carolina, Pitts and NYI have either top nines or sixes that would MURK that pair alone… Now rumors suggest that there may be more in division matchup’s that will have to be in the shorten season.. Also add teams like Boston might join the division for a season to restrict traveling. Sorry but Marchand and Pasta would make a highlight reel by facing those two all game long..

      Lindgren’s isn’t good enough on the odd man rushes, NZ play/reads and quadrant play to cover more territory for Trouba’s reckless aggressive pinches. Keep him with Fox, who’s the main reason why he was able to make the jump, and stay on the team.

  • As stated in your article, trading Staal changed everything for Smith. Since he is in the last year of his deal, it makes the most sense to hold onto him as a placeholder while the kids develop. If Smith can continue to pair successfully with Trouba for at least the beginning of the upcoming season, then he might have some legitimate value at the trading deadline. How funny would it be if the Rangers could recoup a 2nd round pick for him? For now, it seems the best course of action is simply to hold on to him…

  • I agree you keep Smith, but I don’t agree with the general lay of the land.

    Among the prospects, it seems certain Miller needs more time and I would expect the same is true of Reuanen – if indeed he is a legit prospect, which is far from a certainty. Realistically, I think it is better to describe Rykov as a former prospect. So I believe Hajek – and only Hajek – will compete for a spot in the lineup. Personally I’d bet against him as well, but there is real doubt and I hope I am wrong.

    So I don’t think the Rangers have defensemen to spare. If they deal Smith, they need a replacement for him. I also hope that the Rangers will keep on open mind regarding Pettito and Johnson; it is not clear to me that the latter is better.

    Finally, the Rangers are committed to not sacrificing the future to win the Cup this year. But that does not mean they will not win it and it certainly does not mean that they will not try. Compared to last year, they have a massive upgrade in goal – now with perhaps the best goalie in the game. Their top two lines last year were better than any top six in the NHL save Tampa Bay and if they can find a suitable replacement for Fast, they should be up there again. If DeAngelo can successfully switch to LD, they may have a stellar top four on defense – not just long term but this year. And they are adding Lafreniere – and effectively Kappo since he contribute last year – and they have depth as well.

    I’d much rather be the Rangers than Washington.

  • All we really need is a 2C on a 2-3 year deal. If trading Smith get us there, then you do it (figuring they’re not keeping Strome). If Strome was a little bigger, with more of an edge to his game, then I’d say we’re good to go. But that 2C position is an issue until its solved.

    I really don’t think the NYR will do anything until we see what happens with Strome. Once that sorts itself out, I think we’ll see the roster fleshed out more.

  • Smith truly is a relic of another time. On the 50 man roster, only none players remain from the day the Rangers committed to a rebuild and only three of the nine are older than 25 yr. old Buchnevich. The Rangers see Kreider and Zibanejad as part of the future, so Smith’s eventual departure will be an ending.

    Funny to think of Filip Chityl as a long time Ranger, but few have been around as long as he. [JFTR, the others are DeAngelo, Georgiev, Fontaine and Crawley.]

  • The decision on Smith will likely be made if/when they make a decision on Strome. I know that if Strome gets signed to about $5M, then the NYR cannot bring Barron up. If they feel that they need his center depth, they have to make a decision on either Lemieux or Smith. One likely won’t be signed if they want Barron on the big club. If however, the NYR feel like Barron needs a season in the AHL, then both Smith and Lemieux could stay, but it limits move flexibility.

    The best move to make is to make Smith available and see who is interested.

  • To trade Brenden Smith you need a team that would take him. I see the defense market as being saturated. While Smith may not be a great defenseman he plays rough and is a D first guy. You need this element. I thought that Smith played well paired with Trouba in the playoffs .

  • After reading the article and the posts, nothing changes my mind, Rangers are better with him. If the young defenders all click, than that changes. But his physical game needs to be replaced.

  • “Should the NY Rangers still consider a Brendan Smith trade?”

    No, not consider it, but do it? Yes. 100%.

  • No player is above getting traded.However, If you can trade him and get an upgrade on D,other than JJ you do it.
    No more draft picks!

    On the other hand if we keep him,he is versatile.he can play D and Wing. Even though he is not perfect he is better than JJ.
    For that matter he will stand up for a teammate when need be.
    We still need some kind of a veteran presence on the ice and in the locker room.

  • Smith makes more money than he is worth … but he is a flexible team player , who sticks up for his teammates . Would kill them them to keep a good character guy in their clubhouse . This is still a very young team

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