Brendan Smith traded to Rangers by Red Wings
Detroit gets two draft picks from New York for defensemanby Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers added depth by acquiring defenseman Brendan Smith in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
"He's a player we've liked for a while," Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. "The group thinks his skating, the way he plays the game, the fact he can play the left and the right side, the fact that he brings some toughness, that he's got some players in our room that played with him, it's not walking into a room without knowing anybody. I think the combination of all those things made it a good fit for us."
The Rangers got Smith from Detroit for their third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and the Ottawa Senators' second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, a pick that was acquired by New York in the trade for center Mika Zibanejad on July 18.
Video: Rangers acquire Brendan Smith from Red Wings
"I like our team. I think we have a good team," Gorton said. "I think we've had a pretty good year. I think we have a ways to go here to get to where we want to. But if something is out there that will improve in any area, we'll do it."
Smith, 28, was not available to play for the Rangers on Tuesday, when they lost 4-1 to the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. He was with the Red Wings in Vancouver at the time of the trade.
Smith has five points (two goals, three assists) in 33 games this season and 67 points (15 goals, 52 assists) in 291 NHL regular-season games in six seasons, all with the Red Wings. He is averaging 18:44 of ice time per game, an NHL career high and fourth among Red Wings defensemen this season. He has played on each special teams unit.
Video: VAN@DET: Smith's one-timer slides in past Miller
Smith is in the final season of a two-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. TSN reported the Rangers are interested in re-signing him.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he was in discussions with Smith about a contract extension for the past week.
"I was also very up front that we've traded away a lot of draft picks through the years, we're having a tough year, we're dead last in the [Eastern Conference] and if there was an opportunity at the [NHL Trade Deadline] to make a deal to get the assets we would do it," Holland said. "They were aware of that. That's why the negotiations were dragging out until [Tuesday]. We were making good progress. We were close on the parameters. I talked to the Rangers [on Monday], a couple other teams got in the mix, and obviously pulled the trigger today on the deal that we did."
The Rangers reportedly were pursuing defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk before he was traded to the Capitals on Monday. Losing out on Shattenkirk likely pushed New York to move quickly on Smith, who is expected to make his Rangers debut at the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
"A good player like that, he's going to go somewhere kind of expected," Gorton said of Shattenkirk. "There's going to be one or two teams if it wasn't going to be us. It sort of went the way we thought it would. … We had conversations, and at some point we decided it wasn't in our best interest to go forward."
Smith fills an immediate need with the ankle injury to defenseman Dan Girardi, who is expected to miss at least two weeks. Defenseman Kevin Klein missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday with a back injury. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he hoped Klein would practice Wednesday.
Defenseman Steven Kampfer was recalled from the American Hockey League on Tuesday and played 15:44 against Washington.
Smith, who is a left-handed shot known for playing on his off side, could get the opportunity to play on the right side of the Rangers' top defense pair with Ryan McDonagh. They played together for three seasons at the University of Wisconsin from 2007-10. Rangers center Derek Stepan also played at Wisconsin from 2008-10.
Holland said getting draft picks was key for him. The Red Wings also got a third-round pick this year from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade for forward Tomas Jurco on Friday and will get the Toronto Maple Leafs' third-round pick as compensation for coach Mike Babcock, Holland said.
Video: DET@PIT: Smith scores from long distance
"We need more picks," Holland said. "We need more opportunities at the draft."
Holland said he's exploring other trades and expects to make one or two more before the deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 1.
"We've had a tough year," Holland said. "We're dead last, 10 points out. The deadline is [Wednesday]. I've got to try to maximize our assets. I believe we're going to make a move or two more. I think we've got some players here that are of interest to other teams so we'll see what happens."
NHL.com staff writer Jon Lane contributed to this report.