28-Year-Old Defenseman – New York Rangers
Brendan Smith Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $5,5 million contract with Detroit in June 2015.
Smith led all Rangers in ice time with 22:44 in Tuesday's 2-1 Game 4 victory over Montreal. He failed to record a shot or a point, but he did dish out three hits and go plus-1.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Smith settled into a little more steady role with the Red Wings in 2013-14, scoring 19 points in 71 games. The offensive-minded blueliner got burned less by risky moves, but still is developing. He should improve on the 19 points he registered last season in the upcoming campaign, but still is in the lower-to-middle tier of fantasy defensemen.
Smith had an up-and-down postseason with the Wings last season demonstrating both his offensive prowess and his occasional defensive liabilities. The young defenseman is still learning his craft in the big leagues and has a bright future if he can nail down some of his defensive lapses.
Even if Smith is initially outside of the top-four blueliners, he could emerge as an option for one of the top pairings and quickly earn a significant power-play role after delivering seven points in 14 games (1 G, 6 A) and a plus-3 rating in his first taste of Detroit last season. Asking him to immediately fill the offensive void created by the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom may be a bit much, but Smith could ascend to the front of the line quickly if the more senior players ahead of him on the depth chart prove unwilling -- or unable -- to quarterback the Wings' power play effectively. In multi-year formats, Smith should be upgraded as he's a virtual lock to secure the aforementioned roles at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Smith projects as an eventual top-four blueliner with power-play quarterback upside, but the Wings' addition of Ian White and Mike Commodore could give the team enough short-term depth to enable Smith to begin the year at Grand Rapids (AHL) again. Smith racked up 32 points (12 G, 20 A) with the Griffins in 63 games last season and may not be far away from a prominent role with the big club. Particularly in keeper formats, Smith is an excellent late-round target as he's ready to contribute at the NHL-level should the opportunity arise.
A finalist for the Hobey Baker award in his junior season at the University of Wisconsin, Smith led the nation in blue-line scoring with 52 points (15 G, 37 A) last season. He'll likely spend his first professional season in Grand Rapids (AHL), but Smith has the polish to make it up to Detroit quickly and there's top-four potential here depending on how his game develops at the defensive end. The Red Wings believe that Smith will need very little time in the minors before he's ready to contribute at the NHL level Ė there are some concerns about his maturity after some off-ice incidents in Madison Ė but don't be surprised if he debuts this season when injuries necessitate a call up or two. If you're searching for internal options to eventually take over as the role of power-play quarterback whenever Nicklas Lidstrom decides to hang up his skates, look no further.
Smith is developing into a top-end offensive blueliner entering his junior season at the University of Wisconsin. Prior to getting derailed by a wrist injury, Smith had 18 points in 21 games (7 G, 11 A) with all of his goals coming on the power play. Much like fellow farmhand Jakub Kindl, Smith projects as an eventual top-four defenseman at the NHL level. The only question is whether he'll leave the Badgers after this season or return for his senior year in 2010-11.
Smith will spend the 2008-09 playing his sophomore season for the University of Wisconsin.
Smith brings an air of intrigue to the 2007 NHL draft. He's a great skater and puck mover, and he brings a transport truck full of skill to the blue line. But he hasn't really be tested to date -- he's another young man who played Tier 2 hockey for the past few seasons and really needs to be pushed harder to develop. He'll head off to the University of Wisconsin for 2007-2008 and if he adapts well, Smith will be the steal of the 2007 draft class. He has the potential to be a number one, minute-munching, point-tallying stud; stash him and wait.