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.
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.
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.
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.
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