NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Rangers gave up on Brendan Smith on Thursday, placing the defenseman on waivers amid a disappointing season — and on his birthday no less.
The Blueshirts acquired Smith from the Detroit Red Wings before last year’s trade deadline, liked what they saw, especially in the playoffs, and rewarded him with a four-year, $17.4 million contract.
But Smith, who turned 29 Thursday, has failed to live up to his contract. In 44 games, he had one goal, seven assists (eight points) and a plus-2 rating. He’s also been a healthy scratch for several games.
Teams will have 24 hours to place a claim on Smith. If no team does, he can be reassigned to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford.
The Rangers, meanwhile, called up Neal Pionk from the AHL to fill Smith’s spot on the roster.
The Blueshirts, who are 25-24-5 and in last place in the Metropolitan Division, are preparing for a major roster shakeup and could be a big-time seller before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
In a series of tweets to fans Thursday afternoon, the Rangers braced their fans for what could be in store.
“As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character,” the team said.
“This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about & respect. While this is part of the game it’s never easy. Our promise to you is that our plans will be guided by our singular commitment: ensuring we’re building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.”