One of the most hated defensemen to Connor Bedard could join Blackhawks

June 2, 2024  (7:36 PM)

Foligno and Smith in battle
Photo credit: New York Post

The defenseman who injured Connor Bedard in January is set to be a UFA at the end of the 2023-2024 NHL season.

The 35-year-old is infamous, due to the fact he laid out the Blackhawks faithful's favorite player and kept him out 14 games. But could he be the answer for the team?
Clearly, Smith didn't win himself any favors when he injured the All-Star Bedard prior to the All-Star Game in 2024. Bedard would fetch the puck, and while cutting through both Devils defenseman would reach for the puck, head down, and Smith would lay the hit on Bedard.

Despite his infamy, the stay at home defenseman could be a bargain value for next season, in order to stabilize the Blueline. With numerous AHL players graduating soon, in Wyatt Kaiser, Ethan Del Mastro and Nolan Allan he could very well be what the team needs.

A Hockey Family

Brendan Smith was drafted in 2007, by the Detroit Red Wings and would debut during the 2011 season. He would play three seasons in Wisconsin prior to turning pro with the Wings.
Since his arrival in New Jersey, he's been a staple on the blue line and has had a long career in the NHL as a reliable defenseman. Playing six in Detroit, four in New York, one with Carolina, and two in New Jersey.
He's played 694 games in the NHL, and in July 2022, would sign a $2.2 M AAV contract with the Devils, in his 14th NHL season playing 16:26 TOI a night.
His brother, Reilly Smith plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins as a forward and both are from Mimico, a community in Toronto. Mimico was home to former Wing Brendan Shanahan and former Blackhawk Dave Bolland. Both smiths also played for the St. Michael's Buzzers program, a legendary team in the area.
Despite his storied history, he's not perfect of course, suffering defensive zone breakdowns, 2nd in PIMS among all Devils skaters with 61. He had a TOI of 16:06, with a plus/minus of -3, and blocked 101 shots, with a career-high 117 hits.


Despite the tilt between Foligno and Smith, after targeting Bedard, Foligno upholds Smith as a player who is honest and worthy of respect.
"because he went after our best player."

But Foligno, who broke a finger in the fight, said, "I think Smith's an honest player. I have a ton of respect for him. I think he plays the game the right way."

If the Blackhawks do sign Smith, he'd be an upgrade from Jarred Tinordi, Nikita Zaitsev, and Jaycob Megna as a veteran who could offer a leadership presence.
Smith's $2.95 Million home is on the market and hasn't heard from the Devils in regard to an extension:
«It's true the house is on the market, but no inkling to free agency,» Smith told NJ Advance Media. «Haven't started negotiations with NJ at this time.

«Personally I hope (I'm) not hanging up the skates,» Smith said. «I have not talked to management here I love it here. I do want to be back. But, more than that, I want to be back in the NHL. So we'll see how that goes.»

Source: The Hockey News
Could D-Man Who Broke Connor Bedard's Jaw, Devils Brendan Smith, Become A Blackhawk?
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One of the most hated defensemen to Connor Bedard could join Blackhawks

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