Even with defenseman Brendan Smith in the fold, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton still has some irons in the fire, and is keeping his options open before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“It’s not over, “ Gorton said after landing the Detroit Red Wings defenseman for a 2017 third-round pick and a 2018 second-rounder Tuesday. “But if you want a player in this type of market, generally you overpay . . . like everybody else, we’re all talking. What’s going to happen? I don’t know.”
Once the Capitals traded late Monday for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was at the top of the Rangers’ wish list, Gorton focused on Smith, 28.
“He’s a player we’ve liked for a while,” he said. “The group likes his skating, the fact that he plays the left and right side, the fact that he brings some toughness, that he’s got some players in the room that have played with him. A combination of all those things made a good fit for us.”
Smith, a lefthanded shot who can play either side, is an unrestricted free agent and has played 291 regular-season games and 27 playoff games for the Wings. He played for three seasons at the University of Wisconsin with Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan. The 6-2 Ontario native, a first-round draft pick in 2007, has 15 goals, 67 points and 281 penalty minutes in his career. Coach Alain Vigneault could have a look at a McDonagh-Smith pairing at some point.
Smith had knee issues earlier in the season, but Gorton said he was “100 percent healthy.”
On his Twitter account, Smith wrote: “Looking forward to being part of another original six team with the New York Rangers!! #thebigapple”
The Wings did not retain any salary in the transaction. Smith’s salary is $2.75 million, which is prorated, and it is possible that the Rangers will attempt to extend him for next season.
Stepan played two years with Smith at Wisconsin. “He competes hard, can skate and he’s gonna make plays,” Stepan said.
Gorton said Tuesday night that the trade market was “quiet right now,” and he is not unhappy that the team has not yet used its millions in cap space. “Just to add a piece to do it because we have the space, I don’t think that would be the brightest thing to do,” he said.