What about Ladislav Smid?

Jonathan Willis
March 12 2013 12:18AM

Of the Oilers’ pending unrestricted free agents, none is more vital to the team than Ladislav Smid.

The Player

It’s been a long, hard road for Smid and the Oilers. When Edmonton acquired him as one of the key pieces in return for Chris Pronger, Smid was a mess. He arguably wasn’t ready for the NHL in 2006-07, when the combination of injuries and a thin blue line propelled him into a role that saw him play more than 19:00 per game – including, remarkably, an average of 1:11 per night on the power play. The seasons that followed featured an abundance of growing pain as the prospect developed into a player.

But all the developmental pain associated with turning Smid into a top-four defenceman has had a payoff. Oilers assistant coach Steve Smith described the player he’s become back in January:

He’s a guy who will block a shot, will take it in the teeth, well, there’s no teeth left because he’s taken so many, but he’s a guy who will do whatever is asked of him. He’s a great leader in the locker room. He’s a vocal guy… he’s accepted his role, and he’s very good at his role, and because of that he’s going to play for a long time. He was a guy that was a little bit almost schizophrenic two or three years ago, but now he’s settled into really comfortable place where he knows what he has to do to have success, and because of that has really helped our team success.

Smid isn’t the most gifted player in the world offensively, but he can both pass and skate with the puck and he’s solid defensively. His 2013 season has had some ups and downs, but based on the last few years it doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine a contending Oilers team with Smid on the left side of the second pairing. Add in the fact that the coaches like him in the room, and that he wants to stay in Edmonton (something Bob Stauffer has repeatedly asserted on his show), and he seems like a natural fit for another contract.

The Contract

Interestingly, it seems that contract hasn’t been the topic of much discussion between Smid and the Oilers. The following comes from the always-excellent Elliotte Friedman:

The Oilers have some big decisions to make, too. Ryan Whitney is getting traded for sure. What's interesting is it doesn't seem like there's been much conversation with UFA-to-be Ladislav Smid. The defenceman is just 27. The only other free agent who will be younger than him and really plays is teammate Mark Fistric. I'm a little surprised they haven't talked much, because that position is a weakness for Edmonton.

Friedman’s surprise is understandable. It’s been about two weeks since Lowetide wrote a piece on this very subject, and he laid out a similar case. From his conclusion:

Some decisions are tougher than others. No matter how the Oilers proceed with roster makeup plans, Ladislav Smid is vital to the blue. He is still young enough to be here when the team starts winning, he has a lot of experience he can pass along to youngsters who are perhaps overwhelmed by the leap, and he is (from all we know) a solid citizen. Losing him would set back an already thin blue line and mean the club gets even younger defensively.

Dollars might be an issue – players like Josh Gorges ($3.9 million/season) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($4.25 million/season) representing the upper limit for a pure defensive defenceman. It would be understandable if the Oilers wanted to see Smid sign more in the range of a Willie Mitchell ($3.5 million/season) or even a little lower given the falling salary cap.

A bigger issue might be whether the Oilers see Smid the same way – as a top-four defenceman on an eventual Stanley Cup contender. If they feel they need a different type of player long-term – perhaps, for example, somebody a little more adept with the puck – than a short-term deal or a trade could theoretically make sense. Given the weaknesses of the free agent market on defence, the difficulties in trading for such a player, and the amount of time necessary to groom a prospect for that role (something Smid, a ninth overall pick, bears witness to), in practice such a move would be problematic.

As Lowetide put it: sign the man.

Lowetide also comments on Friedman's article.

Recently around the Nation Network

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#51 Old Retired Guy
March 12 2013, 10:50AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
StuckOutHere wrote:

No he is not a top 4 dman on any contending team, though he would contribute beautifully on the bottom pair, with again the ability to move up if need be due to injury.

I think his development is done. He is not getting better than he already is, or if so, marginally at most.

I do think he will be a very serviceable NHL Dman for years to come. Which is why I said I'd give him term rather than salary. 6 years @ $18 mil.

That way we know we have a solid #4/#5 for years to come, whose contract is moveable if need be.

Your assessment seems fair (not unreasonable) and I too would like a 6 year, $18 mil contract....But where we differ is that I see more potential upside in the years to come....

All good...

Avatar
#52 Phixieus666
March 12 2013, 10:50AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Old Retired Guy wrote:

Interesting.....(I say that with no sarcasm)... So do you also agree that Smid is not a 3-4 pairing Dman?

And do you also agree that he's hit his prime and won't be improving much from this point forward?

I think Smid is a 5th that can fill in as a 4th when needed.

As for the prime thing Yes I think he is in his prime and I would suggest he likely wont exactly improve from this point forward but will likely become more consistent.

I think in order for Smid to Improve as a defense man he would need to develop more of an offense game. From a defense perspective I think he is pretty much maxed out and can only be more consistent but that usually comes with age and experience.

Avatar
#53 Old Retired Guy
March 12 2013, 10:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Phixieus666

Fair enough.....I think I'll be watching him a little more closely after hearing what you and StuckOutHere had to say about him....

Avatar
#54 Phixieus666
March 12 2013, 11:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Old Retired Guy wrote:

Fair enough.....I think I'll be watching him a little more closely after hearing what you and StuckOutHere had to say about him....

The other thing to keep in mind is what do you need to be a top 4 defense man. Kruger said earlier this season that to be successful in the NHL the top 4 need to be able to pass the puck effectively as well as the other aspects of the game. And thats where Smid falters.

Avatar
#55 StuckOutHere
March 12 2013, 11:04AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Old Retired Guy

Again, all criticism aside, I really like Smid. I just want to value him for what he is, rather than despise him for not becoming what we hoped.

He's got a lot of great qualities and would be a welcome addition to any club.

Avatar
#56 VK63
March 12 2013, 11:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Will

"Is he gets more than Seabrook. It'll be an overpayment."

indeed

Avatar
#57 bdiddy18
March 12 2013, 11:11AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Smid is a commodity that there is plenty of. If the number is not right, trade at deadline.

You also have Teubuert, Fedun, Fistric, Peckham - Plante (ugh)

They all play Smid's game.

Great Oiler but if his agent inflates his head then don't overpay.

Avatar
#58 Smokey
March 12 2013, 11:23AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@bdiddy18

Smid at 4 years 3.5 with the declining cap would be nice. I believe he signs between 3.7-3.9. Problem is that he may command 4 to 4.5 by some lunatic GM with defensive holes, but Free Agency after a new CBA may pay big dollars to cornerstone pieces, but may bring down dollar amounts on a lesser commodity such as Smid. If Tambo gets him done for less then 3.75 I'll gives props.

Teubert is a tweener, don't see the Smid/Fedun comparison. Fistric maybe in time, Peckham is a different commodity altogether, Plante I agree. However there are players like Klefbaum and Musil coming in 2 years or sooner that may be comparibles.

Avatar
#59 admiralmark@shaw.ca
March 12 2013, 11:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

This actually a pretty tough spot for the Oilers. Obviously its a no brainer they need him. And as it stands he is a 2nd pairing d man on this team. However, I would suggest that in reality on a Stanley Cup winning team Smid is a 3rd pairing d man. And in a shrinking cap situation... The $$$ amount is critical here. Personally i think he is a 3.5/yr D man. But I bet there's GM's out there that would offer him 4.5. So this is gonna be a difficult one i think?

Avatar
#60 Spydyr
March 12 2013, 11:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
plikestechno wrote:

Great guy, tries hard, but is severely overrated and always has been because he was drafted so high. Brings a lot of grit but is still not a really good defenseman. Gets beat on plays and caught out of position all the time and he's 27. His offense has actually regressed over the past few years along with his ability to cycle and keep the puck in the offensive zone. Given the chance I actually think Fistric and Peckham (in time) will be better than him and they're mean.

The oilers need grit but i dont think they need to overpay for grit. That's my biggest worry. That they'll overpay the grit we have and overrate and overpay for some other guys. This city overrates him but on the open market no one would pay him a cent over 2 million. Every organization has guys like him. We don't need to overpay for him. Like Hemsky, no one's going to pay him more than we will.

Our D is awful. Justin Schultz is the only legitimate top 4 guy on this team. We just have a lot of bottom pairing D or guys that would be in the minors on other teams.

Hits and blocked shots aren't stats to be proud of. It means we don't have the puck most of the game and are just chasing the play and praying. If we had goof defensemen they'd be winning the battles for the puck and creating turnovers.

Hits and blocked shots aren't stats to be proud of.

WTF?

Hits and blocked shots win playoff games but since it is going on seven years outside the playoffs, perhaps you are young and don't understand playoff hockey.

It is a fan's like you that have turned hockey into a no hit sport.

To me hockey should be an intensely violent game.Not ice capades.

Avatar
#62 Will
March 12 2013, 12:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I think if Smid wants an overpay, then it makes sense to trade him for an overpay.

I agree that he is hard to replace as a defenseman having some of the highest shot block totals in the league is a rare breed. But at the same time, he is still a defensive defensman, and likely not worth anything above 3.5. So, if you can't resign him, at least try and get a high over pay back from a team that is willing to sacrifice their future to win now (I'm looking at you Calgary).

I would think it'd be a conditional type pick, like a 1st this year and a conditional pick in 2014 if he resigns. However, this would be a good time to trade a player at high value.

Avatar
#63 bdiddy18
March 12 2013, 12:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@unknown666 @Smokey

Oilers fans are a funny bunch - we are a horrible team and should trade everybody but no not Smid he is to valuable.

Smid is an OK 3/4 defenceman - remember in this NHL you need offense from your defence and at the very least puck moving defenceman. Smid fails on both fronts, but makes up for it by blocking shots, also he doesn't punish forwards enough in front of the net to make you think twice about getting in front of the goalie.

Smid is a GREAT 5/6 defenceman - and really you can find that if you don't sign Smid at the right price. You want to pay 3M + for a 5/6 defenceman?

On the Oilers he is top 4 - again on the Oilers. Any contender he would not be a top 4.

Don't get me wrong - I love Smid's passion and his give it all on the ice attitude. But in an honest fair assessment in comparison to playoff roster teams.. Laddy Smid is NOT a top 4 defenseman.

Matt Greene much more punishing defenseman - shot blocker and top 4 defenseman makes an avg 2.95 M

Comparables

Andrew Ference 2.25 Matt Niskanen 2.3 Marc Stuart (182 blks last year) 1.7 M

Avatar
#64 bdiddy18
March 12 2013, 12:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

None of those guys play Smid's game as well as Smid does. Only Fistric is even close, and he's not as good.

I'd rather save the money and upgrade to a legit 2nd pairing Defenseman in the off season.

If you pay more than 2.9 million a season for Smid your paying to much.

AS DEPTH GETS BETTER - Smid falls into final pairing.

Avatar
#65 FastOil
March 12 2013, 01:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I think it comes down to Smid. He may (justifiably) price himself off the team. He can't make 4.5 M with any term and end up playing behind guys with potentially more skill sets like Marincin and Klefbom, with Gernat, Simpson and Davidson nipping at his heels. It's a tough one for Tambellini.

You know M and K will get EVERY chance to make it by this team. We might even see them carried out from the room to the bench by Steve-O so they don't get tired.

Avatar
#66 @Oilanderp
March 12 2013, 08:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Either I am getting smarter or this place is getting a lot dumber. I cannot imagine any scenario in which this team improves by getting rid of Smid.

Smid isn`t going to ask for $4.5 million. Anyone who wants to get rid of this guy either has never been a goalie or is under the delusion that the NHL is what happens in their `Be a GM Mode`on their gaming console.

DO YOU WANT TO FRIGGIN REBUILD FOREVER YOU DUMB BASTICHES?!??!?!

No 'picks and prospects' in exchange for Smid. Sign one of the few bright lights on this abysmal d-core. I SAID SIGN THE GUY RIGHT NOW!!!!!

Cripes. Go back to HF Boards where you can discuss trading Omark, Plante, and a 3rd rounder for Crosby.

*spits*

*punches hole in the wall*

Comments are closed for this article.