March 22 2013 05:51PM
Anybody who has watched Ladislav Smid play for the Edmonton Oilers for more than five minutes or so knows exactly what he is: a physically robust stay-at-home defenseman who will block shots and take the body and won't contribute much in the way of offense.
We know what Smid is. The question the Oilers have to come up with an answer to, preferably before the 27-year-old hits unrestricted free agency during an off-season in which the UFA blue line crop is less than inspiring, is what is Smid worth on a new contract?
While that number is up to debate, what isn't is that whatever figure you arrive at before free agency kicks in is going to go up, perhaps considerably, should the Oilers drag their feet and let Smid hit the open market.
I'm not saying empty the vault for Smid – that usually doesn't and shouldn't happen with defensemen who don’t put up big numbers – but I'd certainly urge GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe to get the ink done on Smid, who is playing for $2.25 million this season, before anybody else gets a crack at him.
WHAT'S THE NUMBER?
I don't know what line in the sand agent Steve Kotlowitz has drawn regarding salary and term with Tambellini, or how much exactly that line will move in outright UFA status, but my best guess is he's looking at settling for something between $3.5 million and $4 million a season for Smid.
I don't see Smid being worth $4 million a season, at least not to the Oilers. If I was in the GM's chair, I'd be looking to make a deal by offering Smid a four-year contract, taking him to age 31, at $3.25 a season, or $13 million over the term.
While Kotlowitz and Smid might find that a bit tight (or a lot tight) -- the sides could easily split the difference and eventually settle on four years at $14 million -- I would not feel compelled to go beyond that, if I was Tambellini.
I like Smid because you know exactly what you’re going to get with him and from him – 20 minutes of honest effort a night, a competitive streak and an edge to his game. There is consistency and a measure of continuity with Smid, who is now the fourth-longest serving Oiler behind Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.
Smid's respected and liked in the dressing room. He's a good teammate. He wants to stay in Edmonton and he's young enough to be a piece of the puzzle moving forward. All that would compel me to get the ink done and avoid a price hike on the open market.
Just not at stupid money.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.