Despite all the Jacob Trouba drama, the Rangers did make some moves yesterday. The big move was the Reilly Smith trade, with the Rangers sending 2nd and 5th round picks to Pittsburgh in exchange for the winger at 25% retained. The move was underwhelming for many, but it addressed a few needs for the Rangers. The cost itself was fine and expected as well.

1. On the Reilly Smith trade itself, it’s a fine move that probably should have been made in March, not July. Perhaps there’s another universe where this trade goes through at the trade deadline and the Rangers have more scoring punch in the lineup. But for a 2nd and a 5th, the Rangers got a middle-six RW that is a good fit as a pass-first player on a line that sorely needs it.

2. Smith has good enough offensive play driving numbers, something his expected role in the lineup–winger alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad–needs. In trying to fill that hole, the Rangers needed a pass-first guy who drives offense and has past success in a 2-1-2 forechecking system. Smith checks all three boxes, as Mike Sullivan runs a 2-1-2 in Pittsburgh and Smith has played well there.

Smith also shot 8.6% last season, well below his career average of 12%. If we assume that corrects itself back to 12%, then the Rangers are getting a 20-goal, 50-point winger that drives offense, is used to the system they play, and in theory fits with their biggest need. It’s a win, especially at $3.75 million and not $5 million.

3. There were many who were upset that the Reilly Smith trade didn’t bring in a 1RW. But the Rangers don’t need a 1RW. They have one in Alexis Lafreniere. This may be semantics, but it’s abundantly clear the Artemi Panarin line is the Rangers’ top line. The Zibanejad line is the second line now, and Smith fits what the Rangers need.

Also, not all top line players are point-per-game guys. Smith is hopefully the perfect complement to what the Rangers need: More scoring at the top of their lineup and a balancing force on their second line.

He’s not a top line winger, that’s fine. Neither were all but maybe 2 or 3 of the free agents that got over a billion dollars yesterday. I’d rather a short term flier than another contract that cripples this team when it ages poorly.

4. Speaking of those contract, we should be happy the Reilly Smith trade went down instead of the Rangers committing 5+ years to someone with similar production. The Rangers, who just won the President’s Trophy and were 2 wins from a Stanley Cup Final trip, should be trying to take that next step instead of running it back. The Reilly Smith trade already means they won’t be running it back.

They didn’t need to blow it up, they needed to retool. Jacob Trouba drama aside, the Reilly Smith trade addresses a big need.

5. It is rather amusing to see the same people calling for kids like Brennan Othmann to make the team get disappointed when the Rangers create an opportunity for them in the future by not signing guys to long term deals. You can’t have it both ways.

The above is a small minority of people, to be fair. The bigger concern has been the Trouba situation, which is going to get resolved in one way or another. But the goal here is to evaluate the Reilly Smith trade in a vacuum, not the Trouba impact.

As a reminder, the roster today is not the roster on October 1, March 1, May 1, and June 1.

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