On this edition of New York Rangers Blueshirt Beat, trade deadline acquisition Brendan Smith doesn’t rule out a return to the club.

For those hardened fans of the New York Rangers who watched the team from day one through Game 6 of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the understanding of just how important Brendan Smith was is a real one. 

Pre-Smith, these Rangers, especially the six along the blueline, were as soft as Charmin. Scratch that, they were softer than Charmin. The opposition would regularly skate and then do a river dance in front of Henrik Lundqvist without the slightest contact.

When Smith came in, he changed the entire mindset of a unit.

Smith shows his fellow defensemen how to bully the opposition if they dared get too close to Hank. Captain Ryan McDonagh suddenly morphed into a more physical player, as did the others.

Smith literally showed an entire team how to get physical and he did it through leading by example.

Now that the offseason is near, the prospect of New York losing Smith is a real one (as he’s set to test the waters as an unrestricted free agent).

Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post writes, “Not so fast.” Smith isn’t automatically ruling out a return to the Garden.

“Absolutely,” Smith said on breakup day Thursday in Tarrytown, when asked if he wanted to come back. “I really enjoyed being here. I like the guys, the group.”

“Obviously I have some of my best buddies that were here to begin with (in reference to Wisconsin buddies Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan), and they’re leaders on the team,” Smith said. “It was real fun to be a part of the New York Rangers, and they do it right. So it’s been a blast.”

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