What doesn't help Smith is that he is unwilling or unable to play "his" game. When we drafted him, there were 3 things that he was known for
1) Big hits. Well, they stopped after he got suspended a couple of preseasons ago
2) Fighting. Well, that stopped after Babs publically chewed him out for dropping the gloves and leaving them a defenceman short.
3) Offence. Well, he gets no PP time as he's stuck behind Kronwall, Alfie, Kindl and the inexplicalble Sammy.
Whilst watching him handle the puck in his own zone like its a hand grenade is unbearably painful, I refuse to believe that he lacks the skill to be an NHL defenceman - as other posters have pointed out I believe the problem is between his ears. Right now he's *thinking* when the puck is near him, but an NHL defenceman doesn't have time to think, it all has to be instinctive. Ericsson was exactly the same up until 18 months ago - you could almost see the gears whirring in his brain as he tried to figure out what he was supposed to do next. Thankfully, it eventually clicked and he is rock solid these days.
It also doesn't help Smith that he's stuck with Quincey who is equally fond of bobbling the puck and/or passing it his skates.
Time, a spot on the 2nd PP unit, and a solid veteran D-man alongside him are what Smith needs, as hard as the growing pains may be.
I really have mixed feelings over this. On the one hand, his symptoms sound horrible. On the other, I wonder if he's sat at home now thinking "I wish I never smashed Holmstrom's head into the glass. I wish I never stomped on Kesler"? The NHL is unquestionably a safer place for Pronger's retirement. He was a great player, second only to Lidstrom in his generation. He was also a dirty, cowardly, cheap shotting, spot picking bully who could and should have been called for cross-checking on every shift of his career. A "tough guy" whose fight card is topped by Dan Cleary and Michael Handzus.
As for cap circumvention, its already cap circumvention even without the whole "retired by not retired". The guy is signed till he's 43, how is that different to the original Kovy deal?