Every team with a history as lengthy as the New York Rangers has had its fill of players that both give it their all and contribute consistently to the team.
A player that is supported unanimously among a fanbase. Since the lockout, players such as Jed Ortmeyer, Sean Avery, and Mats Zuccarello come to mind. The time to add Brendan Smith to this list is soon to come.
When the Rangers acquired Brendan Smith from the Detroit Red Wings, at the bare minimum, Smith was expected to just provide stability on defense as a rental.
Instead, the Rangers found themselves with a blueliner that can move the puck efficiently. Even better, the fans found out Smith was here to stick up for his teammates as well.
It didn’t take too long for Rangers fans to adore the 28 year old as a result. Smith let it be known he enjoyed his time in New York and signed a four year contract. When the feeling is mutual, there’s great reason to believe there’s about to be a new fan favorite on Broadway.
Defensive & Offensive Abilities
Brendan Smith was slotted on the third pair, playing the right side with Brady Skjei. And those two flourished together. The two complimented each other well, with Smith being defensively sound to let Skjei carry the puck without major consequence. The playoffs had Smith help Skjei show the league that he’s no slouch on defense.
In Smith’s time here, he’s put up a corsi for percentage of about 50%. Not amazing, and below a career average, still remarkable considering how poorly the Rangers did as a whole in possession.
Another asset that Smith that has helped his stock has been his passing. A skill that creates offense makes a team more fun to watch, and the fans will always be appreciative of that.
If there’s something Rangers fans love to scream their heads off about, it’s being physical. The problem that always lies with players that are given the label as “grinders” or “tough guys” is that they can throw a big hit or rack up the penalty minutes, but contribute nothing more.
Smith is the exception, being able to reliably defend and let opponents know to not get too comfortable.
Clearing the crease has seemingly always been an issue in front of Henrik Lundqvist, and Smith is there to clean up the mess now for these next few years.
Many who have worn the Rangers shield have been mostly come and gone without much second thought, so it takes a special player to be remembered fondly.
Smith’s got the traits to be beloved in New York, and if he’s going to be here for four more years, we all have to learn to love him anyway.