On Thursday, the New York Rangers placed defenseman Brendan Smith on waivers. Smith has struggled greatly this season, his first after signing a four-year, $17.4 million deal last summer. Smith was acquired at last season’s trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings.

New York Rangers Defenceman Brendan Smith Placed on Waivers

Smith, who turned 29 on Thursday as well, has played in 44 games this season, and has only tallied eight points (one goal, seven assists). Smith has also logged 69 penalty minutes. He averages 17:10 minutes of ice time a game. To take Smith’s spot in the lineup, the Rangers have called Neal Pionk up from their American Hockey League affiliate- the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Smith has struggled all season long. Despite a lack of points and contributions on the score-sheet, he has also been giving the puck away much too often and has been providing poor defensive play for the Blueshirts. Smith had a strong finish last regular season, and a convincing one in the postseason, one that saw the Rangers advance to the second round of play before being eliminated by the Ottawa Senators. Smith has been a healthy scratch several times this season due to his disappointing play.

Via Corsica.hockey, Smith is third on the Rangers in 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage with 46.28, 1.04 relative. He’s a minus 1.64 relative in terms of expected goals for, which means the Rangers are allowing quality shots and scoring chances on their goaltender when he is out on the ice. These numbers show him to be a liability in short term.

Smith and His Options

Now that Brendan Smith is on waivers, every other NHL team has a chance to claim him, if he clears waivers, he will be reassigned to the AHL, in which the Rangers front office could hope for a turnaround. However, him clearing waivers allows him to be traded by the Rangers if they so choose. Smith’s contract includes a $4.35 million cap hit and a modified NTC (no trade clause) that limits the Rangers to trading him to 15 teams only. As of right now, it is uncertain what path the Rangers will choose to take with Smith, but it is fairly possible that he may be traded. But only time will tell.

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