Brendan Smith’s completely disappointing season got here to a breaking level when the Rangers positioned the defenseman on waivers Thursday, which occurred to be Smith’s 29th birthday.
Smith, whom the Rangers acquired from Detroit final season for 2018 second-round choose and the Blueshirts’ 2017 third-round choose, signed a four-year, $17.four million contract shortly earlier than free company formally opened after a stellar 12-game postseason. However he has struggled mightily in 44 appearances this season, turning into a wholesome scratch on a number of events.
And the Rangers are uncertain why precisely Smith’s recreation has declined so steeply.
“No, probably not. (No) perception on why he fell off a cliff,” GM Jeff Gorton stated. “He hasn’t performed properly. He simply hasn’t been capable of finding his recreation.”
Neal Pionk, a 22-year-old righty whom the Rangers signed final Could as an undrafted free agent, was referred to as up from Hartford and can make his NHL debut Friday towards Calgary.
If Smith doesn’t get claimed by one other crew earlier than midday Friday he’ll probably be assigned to AHL Hartford, the place Gorton believes Smith could possibly regain his outdated type.
“I do, based mostly on what we’ve seen prior to now,” Gorton stated. “I believe Brendan’s an excellent participant that may play bodily, that could be a good skater.
“However actually, these parts haven’t been there this 12 months. That is one thing I believe right now, it’s greatest for him to go on waivers, see what occurs and go from there.”
“We labored with him plenty of alternative ways and he appeared to be having a tough time to seek out his recreation,” Alain Vigneault added. “So on the finish of the day, this may be just a little bit drastic right here, however administration and coaches felt this was the best transfer for our crew proper now.”