The Rangers have one of the youngest teams in hockey and their defensive core is very young and inexperienced. The 34-year-old defenseman Jack Johnson, who signed a one-year contract with the Rangers this past offseason, is the oldest on the team. However, on March 9 he suffered a sports hernia injury, which required season-ending surgery. So Brendan Smith, who served as a healthy scratch for the start of the season, got his turn to lead the young core.
Brendan Smith’s offense has been very solid this season, registering a career-high in goals (5). Besides scoring goals, his presence this season has had a huge impact on the Rangers’ offense. Brendan Smith isn’t a guy who is known to score goals whatsoever, but this is something very surprising for the 32-year-old veteran.
Brendan Smith’s grit and toughness are a big part of his game, which his team needs. He will hit hard and sacrifice his body in order to gain some momentum. He has fought a few times this season, which is very important since the Rangers traded their fighter, Brendan Lemieux, to the Los Angeles Kings before the trade deadline.
Brendan Smith also gives the Rangers many goal-scoring opportunities with the number of penalties he draws. Smith has 25 drawn penalties this season, which is good for 2nd in the NHL and 1st for a defenseman.
The Rangers’ power-play has been inconsistent, to say the least, but Smith doesn’t get power-play time. Despite Smith being very good offensively this season, he can’t set up and play in an organized power-play. He is more reliable as a physical defenseman on the penalty kill and 5-on-5, rather than being the quarterback of the power-play.
I think the Rangers should re-sign Brendan Smith because he loves New York and has been with this team for a while. He can lead the group alongside Chris Kreider as another veteran for the Rangers, which is important for the youngest team in the NHL. Rangers need depth defensemen to help the development of the young guys, and Smith serves that purpose perfectly.
Prediction: Rangers re-sign Brendan Smith for 1 Year, $1M.
Photo: Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers