July 2, 2008 |
Jason Smith; The
Last Line of Defense
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.
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
"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
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.
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 TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a contributing writer for NBCSports.com and MSNBC.