By: Will Burchfield
Let the firesale begin.
The Red Wings have traded defenseman Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers in exchange for a pair of draft picks, per Darren Dreger. The Wings will receive the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2018 and third-round pick in 2017, per Bob McKenzie.
Detroit is in last place in the Eastern Conference and 11 points out of a playoff spot with 22 games to go. GM Ken Holland gave the team time to make a push up the standings, but it was clearly time to sell.
The return for Smith is a good one for the Wings, and commensurate to what fellow defensemen have been fetching on the trade market.
The Coyotes reeled in a third-round pick and a conditional fifth round pick for 26-year-old Michael Stone. The Hurricanes received a second-round pick and a prospect for 35-year-old Ron Hainsey. And last night, of course, the Blues landed a first- and second-round pick, among other assets, for the prize of the trade market, 28-year-old Kevin Shattenkirk.
All three players, like Smith, are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
The Wings had hoped to re-sign Smith ahead of the deadline and Smith’s agent had been working on a new deal as recently as Monday. Per reports, Detroit was angling for a three-year-deal worth around $3.5 million per season. Apparently that wasn’t satisfactory to Smith’s camp, so the Wings traded the defenseman to avoid potentially losing him for nothing this summer.
Smith, Detroit’s first-round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007, was in the midst of his fourth full season with the Wings. He never fulfilled his offensive promise, tallying just 67 points in 291 games, but proved to be a strong skater and a consistently positive possession player. He’ll be a nice addition to the Rangers’ blue line.
The departure of Smith figures to open a spot on the blue line for Ryan Sproul. The well-regarded 24-year-old defenseman, who’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 19, has played just five games since Jan. 7.