USATSI_9882917_154158418_lowresThe Detroit Red Wings have traded defenceman Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers in exchange for a pair of draft picks. The Blueshirts sent their third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and the Ottawa Senators’ second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft to Motor City.

“He’s a player we’ve liked for a while,” New York 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 28-year-old from Mimico really is a terrific skater and he can rush up the ice with the puck, plus he has some grit in his game that makes him tough to play against.

In 33 games this season, Smith has five points – including two goals and three assists. That puts him on pace for about eight points.

In 291 career games, all with Detroit thus far, he has 67 points. His best season to date was a 19 point campaign in 2013-2014 that included five goals and 90 shots on target.

Smith is in the final year of a two-year contract and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but the Rangers are interested in re-signing him. So were the Red Wings, apparently, as Ken Holland had been having talks with the defenceman for the past week.

“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.”

With a game against the Washington Capitals to contend with, the Rangers are 40-20-2 – good for fourth in the Metropolitan Division. They have a pretty firm grasp on the first wild cart spot in the Eastern Conference, however, and that should assure them a spot in the post-season.

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