Red Wings’ Smith can’t avoid trade rumors

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It’s everywhere, the trade rumors and speculation of what might occur March 1, right on Brendan Smith’s phone.

“I try to stay away from it, but it’s hard not to see it sometimes,” said Smith, the Red Wings defenseman who is likely to be traded in the next week if general manager Ken Holland decides to become a seller at the deadline.

Smith is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the team may not be interested in re-signing him. Given Arizona traded a similar defenseman, Michael Stone, to Calgary on Monday for a third-round pick and conditional fifth-rounder, Smith should be able to yield a similar package for the Red Wings if he were on the market.

“It’s right on my social media, so things happen, but I just try to go out and play,” Smith said. “Basically my whole thing is just keep trying to play and get better and try to help the team win.”

Smith, 28, was a 2007 first-round draft choice who has spent his entire career with the Red Wings. The offensive development never has really reached what the organization probably felt it might be, but Smith has evolved into a dependable defensive defenseman who plays with energy and is willing to stick up for teammates.

The fact Smith — who says he’d prefer to stay in Detroit long-term in a perfect world — has never known anything but the Red Wings would make a trade somewhat strange.

“I only know Red Wings hockey,” said Smith, “and I like it. It’s all I can say. I loved every moment here, good and bad, and they’ve made me a better player. It’s hard for me to speculate because I don’t know any different.

“I would like to continue to stay on the (Red) Wings path but it’s a business and you never know what’ll happen.

“We’ve (the Red Wings) been buyers more than anything the last couple of years, picking up Leggie (David Legwand) and (Marek) Zidlicky, so it’s a little different dynamic. But I know it’s the NHL and it’s a lot of fun, but at the same time, it’s a business so things happen. You just have to roll with the punches.”

Smith is headed to Fort Lauderdale for the five-day bye break beginning Wednesday, where he’ll spend time with his brother, Reilly, who plays for the Florida Panthers.

It could be a good time to pick Reilly’s brain, given the little brother has been traded twice in his career.

“If that (trade) were ever to happen, it’s worked out well for my little brother and he’s given me good insight in that case,” Smith said. “He’s done well both times he’s been traded, so if I had to ever ask him questions he can tell me all the ins and outs.

“But really, I’m hoping to kind of stick around and see how everything goes, and whatever happens, happens.

“I’m just going to get away from hockey during that time (the bye) and I won’t really think much about it. If something happens my agent will let me know, or I’ll see it on social media. You guys are pretty quick on it.”

Giving credit

Entering Tuesday’s game at home against the New York Islanders, forward Tomas Tatar had scored in two consecutive games while replacing suspended Gustav Nyquist on Henrik Zetterberg’s line (Anthony Mantha is the other wing, along with Tatar).

Tatar gives all the credit for the recent offensive spark to Zetterberg, who remains an offensive catalyst deep into his career.

“Mo (Mantha) is a great forechecker and he’s a real good player, but Hank is just the difference,” Tatar said. “That’s for sure. He’s been great. He’s such a smart player, he knows how to play.

“He’s giving me a the puck a lot, and it’s been fun (playing on the line) for sure.”

Tatar hadn’t scored in seven games prior to the recent hot streak, so it definitely was nice returning to the score sheet.

“You just play with more confidence,” Tatar said. “Like I’ve said before, when you score a few goals, you’re feeling a lot better for sure. You’re not squeezing the stick as hard.”

Ice chips

Coach Jeff Blashill had no update on goaltender Jimmy Howard (sprained knee), who practiced Tuesday but may not be ready to play a rehab game in Grand Rapids.

Howard was hurt Dec. 20 in Tampa and suffered a setback while playing in Grand Rapids two weeks ago.

… Defenseman Mike Green returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with stomach flu.