SIGN THE MAN

The Edmonton Oilers have to make a decision in the next few months on Lalislav Smid: sign him–buying free agent seasons at a premium–or let him go and attempt to find a less expensive solution. What is the better plan?

ZONE STARTS

We begin with zone starts. Coach Krueger is more about getting the skill lines into offensive situations than worrying about the defense in his own zone, so Smid’s number here (mid-pack) likely has more to do with being Petry’s defense partner (for the most part) than any attempt to get the strongest defensemen into the toughest situations.

Still, it is interesting to see the new hire Fistric getting the tough starts. With his skill set, that makes sense–he’s the least likely skater to get a point based on pure offensive skills.

SHOT DIFFERENTIAL

Gabriel Desjardins: Corsi Number is the shot differential while a player was on the ice. This includes not just goals and shots on goal, but also shots that miss the net, and in some formulations, blocked shots. In other words, it’s the differential in the total number of shots directed at the net.

We know from observing the current Oilers that the Corsi (shot differential) number is a negative (Hall, Eberle and the Nuge are the only + Corsi players on the club), and the graph here tells us that there isn’t much difference between #1 and #3 on the list–they’re all getting outshot handily. The Whitney number is the big one, both overall and in terms of CorsiRel.

Smid’s number is a positive relative to the rest of the group.

TIME ON ICE

EVEN STRENGTH

  1. Justin Schultz 17:34
  2. Jeff Petry 17:04
  3. Ladislav Smid 15:54
  4. Nick Schultz 15:45
  5. Ryan Whitney 14:26
  6. Corey Potter 13:35
  7. Mark Fistric 12:44

A stay-at-home defender like Smid is valuable at even strength and on the penalty-kill. Smid is well inside the top 4D in this discipline, playing the "Jason Smith" minutes on the Oilers. I believe this is a slot he’s capable of filling now and into the future, and based on coach Krueger’s using him almost 16 minutes a night at even strength I think that’s a solid endorsement.

SHORTHANDED

  1. Jeff Petry 3:59
  2. Ladislav Smid 3:40
  3. Nick Schultz 3:17
  4. Mark Fistric 2:52
  5. Corey Potter 1:47
  6. Theo Peckham 1:18

Smid’s value shows here, the guy is playing big minutes shorthanded (9th in the entire NHL so far this season). His combined total (EV and PK) is a strong indication that the Oilers see him as being one of their most valuable players defensively.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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.

Sign the man.

  • Spydyr

    I’ve liked Smid since he was a rookie and the question ‘what ta heck was that’ was often asked. I believe he came into the league touted as an offensive/puck moving defenceman.

    He adjusted. I remember an episode where he was talking to Krueger or Renney asking what he had to do to get more ice time. I guess he figured it out.

    I can’t think of a reason not to sign him, as long as he’s not looking for an overpay.

  • Spydyr

    I keep seeing people saying that on a cup contender Smid is at best a 3-4 defenseman, but he’s already that on the Oilers right now and, especially in terms of our defensive game throughout the lineup, are very far from being a cup contender.

    I fear that the Oilers will overpay to keep him and any wasted cap space is going to hurt this team with the hefty financial requirements upcoming.

    Comparable d-men around the league seem to come in around 3 mil.