Per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the New Jersey Devils have agreed to terms with defenseman Brendan Smith on a two-year deal carrying a $1.1MM cap hit. This signing represents Smith’s return to the tri-state area, having spent parts of five seasons on the New York Rangers. Smith, 33, is an inexpensive signing for the Devils and one that will help them shore up their bottom pairing.
At this point in his career, Smith isn’t an earth-shattering addition. He’s a bottom-pairing defenseman who averaged just under 14 minutes of ice time last season. He brings a stay-at-home, physical style that got him on the Hurricanes’ penalty kill, where he averaged 1:04 of short-handed ice time per game. A well-respected locker room voice, Smith has shown versatility and a team-first mentality in the past, having even played sporadically as a forward late in his tenure with the Rangers because he lost his spot on their blueline.
This signing won’t be the major win of GM Tom Fitzgerald’s offseason. But for one of the NHL’s youngest teams, adding a safe, veteran defenseman at an affordable price is the sort of under-the-radar move that can make a big impact. Smith won’t be the reason the Devils get back to the playoffs, but if they do end up competing in a cutthroat Metropolitan division, Smith will help steady the ship.