The Edmonton Oilers have crept within two points of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, but that’s not why UFA-to-be Ladislav Smid was removed from the trade deadline yard sale and was signed to a 4-year, $14-million contract extension on Monday.
He was signed because he’s a quality defenseman, and the Oilers are idiots if they don’t hold on to one of the few they have.
Smid, 27, will have a $3.5 million cap hit, a few ticks up from his $2.25 million this season. The 4-year term pushes his contract out farther than any defenseman currently signed by the Oilers; in fact, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Nick Schultz are both free agents (RFA and UFA, respectively) after next season.
Smid is third on the Oilers in total average ice time and second in average shorthanded ice time, for a unit that’s seventh in the NHL at the moment.
As Tyler Dellow wrote last month, his contributions are hard to specifically quantify, but he’s a valuable defensive asset:
I get that Smid has his flaws as a player but the overriding thing to me is the fact that he is an honest to goodness top four defenceman in the NHL and the Oilers don’t have any sure bets for the next two years in that spot. I am certainly open to arguments that the NHL as a whole fails to properly value players with Smid’s skills – defencemen who can eat minutes without a lot of puck skill – but I don’t know how you can make much of an argument that guys like him, this close to free agency, tend to get less than $4MM over less than six years. I’m also not particularly confident in the Oilers’ ability to pick out classes of players who are overpriced.
In other words, it’s the old general manager line: Can I get upgrade this player, or find a reasonable comparable player, for a lower cost? Or does it make sense to simply hang on to this player if the financials are right?
Hard to argue with $3.5 million for a solid if unsung defenseman.
Well, save for the fact that the trade deadline just got even a bit more tedious.