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July 2, 2008 | 4:47pm ET
Jason Smith; The Last Line of Defense
Free agent defenseman Jason Smith is attracting a lot of interest, and for good reason; he's one of the toughest stay-at-home defenseman available, says David Pagnotta.

[TORONTO, ON] -- It's been more than 28 hours since the flood gates opened on this year's free agent market and as a huge chunk of the NHL's stars have found new homes, there is still plenty of talent available in the pool.

As Todd Bertuzzi, Jaromir Jagr and Kristian Huselius lead the list of available forwards (I've excluded Mats Sundin, as he's told the world he's not in a rush to sign), Jason Smith remains one of the most sought-after defenseman fielding offers from a number of clubs.

Smith, 34, spent last season with the Philadelphia Flyers after seven and a half years in Edmonton. His psychical and defensive-minded game is an asset any team would love to have and there are a significant amount of clubs knocking on his door.

"There are a considerable amount of teams aggressively pursuing his services," Smith's agent, Art Breeze, told TFP.

"Jason is a very unique player, a hard-nosed grinding physical defenseman."

While Breeze wouldn't discuss how many clubs he's spoken to about his client, Smith has reportedly been contacted by such teams as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, the team that drafted him 18th overall in 2002.

Smith is a proven leader. He isn't afraid to get in your face, he loves to throw the body around and he won't shy away from blocking a puck or two.

The Lightning, Sabres, Penguins and Devils, among others, could use a defenseman of his caliber.

Tampa, for example, has stockpiled on offensive-minded forwards and while they added Olie Kolzig to the mix, they could use a strong blueliner in their own zone. The Devils appear set on bringing everybody back, so why not Smith? The Penguins might be losing Brooks Orpik, and the Sabres need someone strong in their backend.

Breeze indicated that Smith is considering all of his options, and suggested that a decision could be made today as some teams have requested an answer.

"We are not closing any doors," he said. "We are going to aggressively pursue every avenue.

"We're going to stick through everything, and then Jason will make the final decision."

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for He is also a contributing writer for and MSNBC.



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