New York Rangers 2016-17 Report Cards: Brendan Smith

Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

Trade deadline acquisition Brendan Smith quickly became a key player in the New York Rangers 2017 playoff run. His strong two-way play on defense provided a much-needed spark to the team’s lineup. Blue Line Station grades what many hope will be the first season of a long tenure with the Rangers.

The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Brendan Smith at the 2017 trade deadline. The former Detroit Red Wings player immediately became a fan favorite in New York. With the Rangers defense constantly seeking help, Smith provided a much-needed boost.

Smith was a former teammate of Rangers’ captain Ryan McDonagh and alternate captain Derek Stepan at the University of Wisconsin. Their chemistry was noticeable on both the bench and the ice. Meanwhile, his presence provided a key boost for one of the team’s young defenseman.

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Shortly after joining the team, Smith was inserted alongside another former college standout, Brady Skjei. That duo was quick to become the team’s best offensive pairing, showing plus speed and decision making while playing together.

Brendan Smith’s presence on the Rangers’ blue line represented a shift towards the norm for today’s NHL. The combination of Smith and Skjei’s smooth skating and comfort on the breakout was a pleasant sight for anxious fans.


Following Smith’s arrival in New York, he dressed in 18 games for the team. After scoring five points (2G, 3A) in 33 games with Detroit, he recorded another four (1G, 3A) with the Rangers. That marked the first time in three seasons that Smith missed the double-digit scoring mark.

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However, Smith played a prominent role one the Rangers down the stretch. He recorded the highest average ice time (20:10ATOI) of his career in those 18 games.

Perhaps most importantly, Smith continued his career-long trend of playing solid possession hockey. Smith placed second the Rangers’ defense, behind his partner Skjei, in Corsi-for% with 49.3CF%. Playing on a Rangers team that bled shot attempts produced his first season below 50CF%.

Getting nasty in the playoffs

Where Brendan Smith’s game stood out the most was when the postseason started. It was clear that Smith’s experience would be a huge advantage for the team, as he recorded four assists to surpass his regular season Rangers total.

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He played with an extra edge, including two fights against the Canadiens’ Andrew Shaw and Senators’ Dion Phaneuf. Smith also proved to be one of the team’s best crease clearers. His hard-nosed play was noticed by other teams, as well as the referees (20PIM), over the Rangers’ 12 postseason games.

Moving Forward

There is hope around Rangerstown that Smith’s service will be retained as a part of the defense corps moving forward. The key will be whether those services will fit into the team’s constant salary cap restraint.

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A four-year, $4-million does not feel out of the question for the 28-year old defenseman. If GM Jeff Gorton can work some off-season magic to create some cap space, Smith would fit perfectly back alongside Skjei on the Rangers’ second pairing.

Grade: B+