Most fans are already aware of the fact that this afternoon, the Rangers acquired Brendan Smith from the Red Wings. In exchange, they gave up a third round selection this year and second rounder in 2018. A mostly defensive left-handed defenseman at the NHL level, Smith is a former first-round pick who projected to be a two-way blueliner, but has really only shown that ability at the minor league level.
Frankly, everyone knows that who the Rangers wanted was right-handed Kevin Shattenkirk, the Westchester native who is a proven offensive defenseman. But Shatty went to Washington on a deal that could only (at this point) be described as an expensive rental. This was and is a real problem for New York, a team already without a power play quarterback and most recently down two D-men to injury (Kevin Klein is out with a back problem and Dan Girardi with a leg laceration). So, the Rangers had to do something. And what they did was pull the trigger on a deal for Smith, a lesser left-handed defenseman, who will keep them in the race but not put the team over the top.
The team may yet wind up with Shattenkirk, just not for this season. Shattenkirk becomes a UFA after this season and it is well known that he is interested in playing in MSG and New York is interested in having him. In the meantime, the Rangers gave up a second and third round pick for Smith, who is also a UFA after this season. I personally believe that the price in picks was too high, but it was a big risk not to make this trade. The race in the Metropolitan Division is tight. The Rangers are currently in the first Wild Card spot, by 13 points, with 20 games left, including tonight’s battle against the Caps. Without Girardi and Klein for at least two weeks, the Rangers could have slipped into facing Washington or Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs and face an early exit.
So, although I do not like the trade at all and believe that Ken Holland made out like a bandit in Detroit, what other choice did Jeff Gorton and company have once Shatty was gone? None, and that’s why Smith is a Ranger tonight.