Ladislav Smid: Never Safe

Oilers observers spent much of 2013 wondering whether Ladislav Smid was going to be re-signed by the club or moved on deadline day. With the signing of a long-term value contract – four years with an average annual value of $3.5 million – that speculation ceased. Despite that, it’s far from certain that Ladislav Smid will be a long-term member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Things To Remember

1. Ladislav Smid was signed by the previous administration.

2. Ladislav Smid does not have a no-trade clause.

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3. Craig MacTavish has emphasized mobility, puck-movement and quick decision-making from his defence.

4. The Oilers have a pressing need to add a top-pairing defender.

Eric Brewer

Photo: Herkie/Wikimedia

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The Oilers aren’t going to throw away a player like Smid – despite his warts moving the puck, he has a great deal of value as a defenceman. He’s big, tough, plays an honest physical game and defends rather well. He has at times been quite good in a top-four role – notably towards the end of 2011-12 when he and Jeff Petry held their own as a top pairing for a significant stretch.

But the Oilers didn’t throw away Eric Brewer, either. They traded him and some spare pieces to St. Louis in exchange for Chris Pronger when that elite defenceman became available. It was, without question, the strongest move of Kevin Lowe’s managerial career, and one that worked out rather well for the Oilers.

If Edmonton finds themselves in a situation where they can add a legitimate top-pairing guy, Smid makes a lot of sense as a potential trade candidate – because he’s a good defenceman on a value contract in the prime of his career whose skillset isn’t a perfect marriage to the espoused philosophy of the new general manager.


None of this means that the Oilers are on the verge of trading Ladislav Smid, or even that Smid won’t spend the rest of his contract in Edmonton. He is a good player on a good contract; generally those are the kind of pieces a team likes to keep around. Additionally, it would make no sense to trade him except in a very specific scenario where the Oilers had the opportunity to trade a package built around Smid for a superior defenceman; they don’t have the defensive depth to move Smid out without replacing him at the same time or very, very shortly thereafter.

All it means is that Smid’s name should be written in pencil, rather than pen, on long-term projections.

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Recently around the Nation Network

For those who missed it, the Vancouver Canucks stepped in and signed a player who would have been a perfect for the Oilers organization: undrafted European goaltender Joacim Eriksson.

Just based on their respective contract status, I’d guess that Lack still has the inside track to be Vancouver’s backup next season, while Eriksson is most likely to star in the Penticton Young Stars Tournament before being shipped out to Utica for most of the year where he’ll battle with Joe Cannata for starts. If the Canucks don’t pursue a veteran goaltender to replace the likely-to-be-traded-at-long-last Roberto Luongo, I wouldn’t be surprised if the training camp battle between Eriksson and Lack turned out to be a hotly contested one.

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • Laddy is an excellent role player and has loyalty to the team and a good solid history here.

    Every winning team needs at least one man who fills this role, I like Laddy and think we should keep him and move a few others who are now kind of filling the same role on the team.

    On that note, I stand by the statement that anyone but Nuge may go as far as I am concerned, he is the straw that will stir the drink here for many years to come. I believe it is easier to move forward with that simple aknowledgment. Set the pecking order and let the boys play.

    From this point on I believe this team needs to go for it 100%, to build a Winner right now.

    This means anyone is fair game, alone or in a package.

    In Mac-T I trust.

      • Eddie Shore

        Right now, yes for sure. Going forward, most likely. But we don’t know what EDM has in Nuge or Yak yet.

        Nuge was amazing in 2011-2012, and we’ve seen what wonders Hall’s shoulder surgery did for him. I’d like to see Nuge have a full healthy season, and Yak be older than 19 before we decide who’s the best of the trio.

      • Best Oiler gets benched at worlds because after three years he isn’t responsible with the puck. Is on his a$$ at least twice every 45 second shift.

        Was out scored by an 18 yr old on his own team that didn’t have the advantage of playing in Oklahoma during the lockout. Plus didn’t received quality power-play that Hull did and had the great Gagner as his centre when he wasn’t on the checking line.

        Still allot of warts on Hull’s game after 3 years, hoping he figures out what type of player he is going to be.

        I have Hull rated behind both Nuge & Yak but time will tell.

        • Word to the Bird

          If you don’t know his last name you have no right to criticise.

          He also scored 50 points in 45 games, which put him in 9th place in NHL scoring, second in the Western Conference to Patrick Kane.

          He also hits more than either of those two. A mean edge is not something that can be taught.

          Yakupov also played in the KHL after the lockout, which is better than the AHL is.

          You sir have no idea what you’re talking about

          • Sounds like you have a boy-crush on Hall. You’re a little over the top in your comments but from your handle it’s probably expected.

            How many teammates did Yak have the luxury of playing with in the KHL. What are you twelve?

          • Word to the Bird

            This coming from the guy who is insulting me over defending our best player.

            Even if I was 12, how would that even play any part in this argument?

            Sure, he falls a lot. He also got benched at the World Championships. But how does that make him a worse player? He averaged over a point per game this season. How can you argue with that?

            Also for the record, I’m 18, so beak me if you want. But I have season tickets and have been following the Oilers as long as I can remember.

        • Spydyr

          Taylor Hull…is he another of Bob’s kids the last one was pretty good. Will he play on a line with Gagnye

          Normally I don’t comment on typos but this is not a typo. You got it wrong every time.

          You lose all credibility when you don’t know his name is Hall not Hull.

      • Reverse Full Stop— All Steam Ahead.

        I disagree Willis, I respectfully disagree.

        I believe Taylor is still something of an unknown, I definately havent seen his dominating style translate to any line but the first line, the best player on any team can elevate any of all four lines to another level entirely.

        Taylors point projections are as much a reflection of his linemates and the room they demand as anything else.

        It is all about small degrees of excellence that we see the line elevate to when they are together.

        Neither Hall nor Ebbs have really shown the ability to project themselves adequately from deeper in the lineup.

        Players like Gagner have learned to do this and it is a sign of NHL maturity. MPS has learned this, Ryan Jones has shown he can project his game from all lines.

        I believe that if we played Nuge on all four lines for 20 games each he would maintain or project his game to a more optimal and consistant degree than either Hall or Ebbs
        could at this point, Nuges game would likely be more defensively or positionally catalysed but that is fine from the systems perspective.

        Show me a player who can score their way up from the 4th line into a top six role on the team and I will begin to consider these men as being well rounded enough and flexible enough to be considered the best on the team.

        I am a huge Taylor Hall fan and he will be doing great things for us for a long time, but to be the best Player on the roster we have you need to be an elite line manager, Taylor has a ways to go in that dept. but is so far ahead in the physicality department that he is still an enigma at times. In the Optimal line managment dynamic Taylor could be in the top 5 NHL scorers, and as soon as we can deposit Ebbs or Nuge in that same spot we will have the level of 1st line managment we need. We have seen Hall get there, on the others backs and now we need to see him boost someone else up that high before we can call him the best man on the team, he is a good way there but has a good way to go.

        I have a trade secret Willis, sorry, I cant expound on it here. Suffice to say that were I the GM we would see a blockbuster trade coming soon.

  • Concur

    I think the only safe defense men we have this year are J. Shultz and Belov. It has already been stated that defense needs an overall, too many 2nd and 3rd pairings.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      It’s just an opinion….but I don’t think the Oilers have single Dman that is safe…..any of them, including J Schultz could be gone if it brings us a legitimate # 1. Dman…

  • djc

    Great, an article about a defenseman. It’s only a matter of minutes before the morons start commenting about trading for Weber and the troll starts bringing up random stats showing how much he hates Gagner.

    I hope Smid stays. He plays hard every night, his contract isn’t bad, and he seems to be a leader on the team. I’d rather trade Nick Schultz.

  • Spydyr

    If you are trying to build a Cup winner, you need players like Smid. Unless the return is through the roof you don’t deal them away.

    Can’t wait for the finals to be over so we can comment on some real moves and trades.

  • I would trade him in a heart beat if it meant moving up to draft Barkov.

    I doubt Smid alone would be enough, but a package with him being involved might get you there.

    especially if all your doing is moving up two postilions.

    Short term pain for long time growth.

    • Oilertown

      I don’t mind seeing Smid go if as you say, it is part of a package to grab a highly coveted piece.

      Same goes for Gags. Although if they stay, I think they as well as Hall should be wearing letters this year.

      If they don’t feel Taylor is ready yet, I could see Gagner getting the C for a while anyways.

    • No. Just no.

      The days of development and “process” are over. MacT has a mandate to improve the team NOW.

      Trading away a solid actual NHL’er for yet another long term potential solution may have been palatable a couple of years ago, but not anymore.

      You guys really have to get over Infinibuild™.

      • You don’t get out much do you?

        Have you read JW NHLE for Barkov, have you taken the time to read his scouting report?

        This kid will step in and completely make Gagner redundant.

        Better in all zones already. This is not some long term prospect, this is a plug and play elite center much the same as RNH.

        By the way RNH is his second year is already an upgrade on anything the Oilers have had since Wieght.

        Furthjer more The Oilers have players that can already compete with Smid, Hanging onto a 3rd or 4th defensmen because you want to win now, is why Tambellini is no longer here!

        You can call it an infinity build, but it’s clearly not.

        By the way, if the Oilers are moving out 12 players, what do you think the chances are there going to be good next year?


          • Well Mikey, my guess is they already know who would replace him or they wouldn’t trade him.

            That’s not the point, the article is would you trade Smid, Yes, I would to move up to grab Barkov.

            Gagner, Hemsky, Horcoff, Paajarvi draft picks to replace Smid.

            Slow footed defemsmen with a bad outlet pass are not hard to find despite whatever you may think of his shot blocking ability.

            There’s a reason MacTavish doesn’t favor Smid.

          • Eddie Shore

            How can you possibly say that who replaces him is irrelevant in deciding whether or not you would move him? Sure, I’d move him too but only if another NHL quality D-man is coming back.

          • That’s what I’m saying, I move him to move up in the draft to chose a player that will have an immediate impact and upgrade a position of serious need.

            This gives you options moving forward, You now have Gagner to dangle IF you need to, If not, you still have prospects, Picks and players to help get a 3rd or 4th defensmen.

          • I hope that Mac T does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Smid is not overly gifted but plays a simple game with physicality……..something in short supply with the Oil.

            Can you name me one other defenseman that plays regularly with some toughness and honesty on the Oil?

          • Yes, If I were a GM I would think all my defense would, No?
            With the exception of Whitney of course.

            If you want a simpler answer then I choose Schultz Sr.

            Honest player.

            Doesn’t mean I value him anymore then I do Smid the 3 – 4 – 5 defensmen are not all that hard to obtain.

            The reason why Smid has good value is he’s a good 3rd with an absolute dream of a cap hit and no movement clause to worry about.

            If the Oilers have a chance to get better immediately and in the long run you take it.

            I would have to think MacTavish is open to moving anyone except the kids.

            Especially if the rumors are true about Ranger wanting to come play for Eakins in Edmonton, making Smid all but expendable.

          • Rocket

            Sorry to jump into the conversation but on the Oilers blueline there really are not any that would replace Smid outright. Blocks shots and hits well enough to be top ten in the league.

            My issue is that despite those skills Smid gets burns quite often because he is down on the ice to block the shot! Certaily a warrior but we would do well moving him in a deal if it meant the return was something very good! Barkov is something that would be considered very good.

            Team defense involving the forwards is as meaningful to success as good old fashion defense. Gagner has absolutely no concept of this and I agree with @Walter “Wes” Sobchak with his assessment of Barkov. If this young fellow was playing in the CHL this past season it is very likely his name would be spoke of as a potential #1 pick. What he has done in his league is remarkable, only a chap named Peter Forsberg produced better at the same age. A 6’3″ 209lb centerman such as him is what this team needs and yes he would quickly make others forget Gags.

            Yes Gagner brings offense but would you say he makes players around him better? His game is offense and offense alone. Faceoff’s are poor, defensive game is poor, not to mention being on the smaller side and does not hit. Meeting 1 out of 3 needs for his role does not make this a better team. Granted he playd alot with Hemsky and their styles just don’t mesh but there is too much missing.

            Now that I am way off the topic, Belov and Kelfbom are going to get their shot regardless. Picking up a guy like Ranger will help fill the gap, if not I think there is opportunity to grab a guy with other teams looking to scale back to the cap.

            Bottomline is you make that deal involving Smid if the return is Barkov like or a bonifide top 2dman!

          • Wiggleswag

            To be honest I would sign Fistric to take Smid’s spot! Fistric is under appreciated in Oil Country & can do the things Smid does if given the opportunity! Better hitter & gets more respect on the ice than Smid does! If the Oil don’t sign Fistric it’s a big mistake in my opinion & Mark is going to make another team much better!

          • Wax Man Riley

            I think the point is that at some point you have to stop being enamoured with the shiny new toy. Every year (for the last 3) it has been “sell the farm to get prospect X.” Eventually you have to stop trying to get draft picks and start trying to win.

            I have a hard time believing that any player with 0 NHL games under his belt are going to make a significant impact right away. Especially at 18.

            I have my doubts about Belov too, but he’s older and has been playing against men for a long time in a top league.

          • Ok, Forget Gagner, forget Barkov.

            This was about Smid, do you honestly value Smid above a # 1 center?

            Theirs your answer.

            Hall 18 year old season? RNH 18 year old season? Yakupov 18 year old season.

            I’m not sure where your getting that they wont make an impact?

            Any of the last 3 drafts Barkov has similar NHLE, if not better.

          • GVBlackhawk

            So true. Trading Smid in order to acquire Barkov is a no-brainer.

            The team can then re-sign Gagner with the intention of a 2C role for the short term with Barkov playing in Finland next season (while completing his military duties). In the future, trade Gagner for a different need or put him on 3RW (this would require that he signs for a favorable Oilers deal).

            Smid is an asset for the Oilers, but he does not offer any attribute that is irreplaceable…and he is certainly not ‘untouchable’.

        • I get out. Lots. Which is why I don’t base what I say on pure hypotheticals like “NHLE’s”.

          Jonathan is a solid writer, but he has ZERO actual NHL background. His articles are entirely based on the study of rudimentary statistics and video with little to no first hand experience of elite-level athletes like NHL players. I enjoy Jonathan’s point of view with the goal to be entertained. If I want to get insight I’ll listen to MacT interviews or read experienced pros like Brownlee. You know, guys who’ve actually been there.

          Similarly, I have zero NHL experience. But I’m not arrogant enough to believe equivalency stats are enough to justify plugging in players from inferior leagues and somehow, SOMEHOW being able to make a team better right off the bat.

          I’m sorry. NHL 13 is a video game, not real life. Thinking you can plug and play unproven athletes without negative consequences proves you’re spending too much time online and not enough in the real world.

          Maybe you should get out more.

          • Not to be thin-skinned, but somehow the experienced pros running the team in Edmonton signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year contract. And I don’t recall hearing a lot of criticism at the time on that move from the experienced pros covering the team; everything I saw in that regard came from the amateur crowd.

            I guess what I’m getting at here is that an appeal to authority – whether an appeal to my work (which you’re responding to) or a suggestion that somebody’s work should be disregarded based on who he is rather than what he says (what you’re doing right now) is wrong-headed.

            The funny thing is, I don’t think Barkov could replace Gagner immediately. But I might make the trade anyway based on long-term potential if I felt I could replace Gagner in free agency with a player like Mike Ribeiro or Derek Roy or Valtteri Filppula.

            Anyway, still glad you read – even if only for entertainment purposes.

          • Willis, I enjoy your articles but I agree and disagree with your take on Gagner vs Barkov.

            While I don’t think you can replace Gagner offense or experience with Barkov right away, but, by all accounts his game might be more complete then Gagner right now.

            From what the scouts say and what some NHLers who played against him are saying, his defensive game is NHL caliber.

            at any rate in a couple season I would wager he’s at or exceeded Gagner.

          • I think at least here in Edmonton that a case can be made for NHLE.

            Hall – Eberle – RNH – and Yakupov all meet or exceeded there NHLE and in most cases were an upgrade to the position they filled.

            So your argument doesn’t hold much weight as far as those players go.

            Nor does it with so called inferior leagues as is the proof of Yakupov not enough for you?

            So I’m sticking to Willis NHLE as it is a good bet that Barkov will come damn close to it.

            As far as writing style I enjoy all articles written on this site, I’m not sure how that plays into the disagreement?

            You talk about stopping the re-build yet you want to keep inferior players on the roster!

            That’s exactly why Tambellini was fired, his failure to act or upgrade a single position on the roster.

            The notion that Tambellini was installed to be the fall guy is egregious and completely false, the re-build started at the behest of both Tambellini and Katz and after Tambellini was already hired.

            Tambellini never won a trade or failed to act appropriately, this clearing out should have taken place two years ago.

            As for Smid..How hard do you think it is to find a 2nd pairing 4th defensmen? So you are willing to keep a 3rd or 4th pairing defensmen instead of moving him for a elite #1 two way center?

            come on, you don’t honestly believe that?

            Especially if Paul Ranger want to come to Edmonton.

        • You should pay closer attention. Tambellini was installed to be the fall guy for a tanking strategy. Improving the team and “winning now” was the polar opposite of his agenda. His firing was the signal that the team is moving on to the second stage of the rebuild – getting rid of deadwood and becoming playoff competitive*.

          *And by competitive I mean good enough to make the playoffs, not win the cup.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          There’s your gimme, Ehh Team. You have a democraric right to be wrong too, that’s your free one used up, you hoser.

          Hard to believe David S has 9 relatives on this board. Must’ve used up some of his brownie points to have them all check in and prop his comment like that. Think there’s some inbreeding going on there perhaps?

          Oh and, Sell the Farm!!!!

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        I assume that by infinibuild…you are referring to the practice of trading a roster player for a prospect….

        To me it’s a false argument….in today’s cap world every team is in a constant state of rebuilding ….you make ANY deal that makes sense for the present and/or for the future..the balance of current needs versus future needs tips in one direction or another based on a whole host of variables….the better teams find a way to maintain a balance

        If you have to move Smid to get Barkov and that allows you to move Gagner to get some other 3-4 Dman…you probably do it….

        On the flip side you move elite level prospects for established NHL roster players if the deal makes sense…you may choose to move a Justin Schultz in a package that brings you a Peiterangelo….

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Resistance is futile David, you will be assimilated.

        I guess you know which side of the fence i’m on with this one. My frame of mind is there’s really little else here (but the fab 5) that you could call, an integral part of the future going forward. I see it as, the rest of the players on this roster being nothing but support type players remaining, easily replaced come early July each year. A tinker here and a tweak there, these guys are for the most part, are easily replaced.

        It’s a different game today compared to 15 yrs ago. Teams are putting their monies into their top 10 players (top 7 forwards, top 3 D, and a goaltender). The rest of your roster you have to dictate to them what they’re worth/willing to play for, if they choose to come play here. These guys (non fab 5 club members) are different/less important and turn over more rapidly than your top 10 players.

        I’m clearly with Wes on this. Sell the farm to add to that top 10 group at almost any cost (outside of the Fabulous five). I propped your comment accidentaly, so your total should be minus one of your current number.

  • YFC Prez

    Re Barkov,

    If it is feasible to move up and draft him great. But carefull not to put the cart before the horse. Gagner is now a legit 2nd line offensively gifted center. I agree Barkov could be a more complete player and very likely will be, but how long does that take.

    Remember all the promise that Gagner showed in his draft year and only now is that really showing.

    I don’t wan’t to watch this oilers team take on a bunch of rookies year after year, Move forward. What really drives me is now that Gagner is a valuable player reaching his potential everyone wants to trade him so we can watch more kids grow.

  • MKE

    Wes i agree with you 100% on the smid/barkov thing. id taken it even a step farther. i believe as many as 8 people from the first round this year will step in and have a significant impact on their teams this year.

    If trading Smid means we can get barkov…im all for it.

  • Digs Sunday Rant:

    So, Smid is not safe, but not likely to be traded… soon. If ever. And?

    Barkov seems like he will turn out, but I doubt the pick that selects him will be moved. It’s all moot. JMO. But, the discussion is entertaining.

    I think anyone can be had for the right price. Money talks and all that jive.

    Van signs Eriksson. Bastards! lol Curious to see what transpires with their goalie situation.

  • Fantheoilman

    For no other reason than mentioning it. The 2011 draft, top ten, is looking fantastic considering at the time it was considered a weak draft. So no I don’t think we will have very many miss’s at 4 spot. Drafting is much better now than twenty years ago. If Smid can be flipped to get in to the top 4 then you do it, if he can be flipped for a 1-2 Dman then do it fast. Same for Gagner.

  • Fantheoilman

    We probably only have 9 pieces of the puzzle in place :Dubbie , Hall , Eberle ,Hopkins , Gagner , Yakupov ,J.Schultz , Smid , Klefbom , J.Petry . Maybe this year we add 1-3 more if lucky . Do we really want to start ripping apart the pieces in place at this stage ? I doubt it .

  • GVBlackhawk

    Did I just read that right..?

    Did J.W. just advocate that the River City Oil Men should bring in Derek Roy to play Center for their Hockey Club..?

    That didn’t just happen did it..?

    I mean REALLY…