In what can be considered a “might as well” re-signing, the Oilers have signed defenseman, Ladislav Smid, to a two year, $4.5 million contract. Despite being a general disappointment, the smooth-skating defenseman is only 25 years old, and has shown the occasional bright flash as a shutdown defenseman that the Oilers so sorely need. With no real salary cap issues needing to be addressed until the 2013 offseason, this is the perfect length deal to give Smid as an extended tryout of sorts, as well as it allows the Oilers to grow their payroll enough to reach the cap floor.
Smid has never tallied more than 11 points in a season, and has only found the back of the net four times over five seasons, so it’s pretty clear that he offers very little in terms of upside offensively. Even more strange is his increase in salary from $1.3 million to $2.25 million despite doing nothing to really justify the raise both offensively and defensively.
I’m going to say it’s more of a business move than hockey move, signing him to a contract to help inflate the Oilers salary, and keep a decent defenseman under contract to fill a roster spot. With the Oilers frighteningly thin at the defense position, there’s a definite necessity in having Smid on the roster while the team waits for its defensive prospects to make it to the senior club. Smid hopes to be a top-four defenseman for the foreseeable future, and become more consistent in a shutdown role.
At worst, Smid could end up a valuable trade chip over the next two trade deadlines for teams looking to add to their defensive corps for a long playoff run, as he almost was this year. Having him to such a short-term deal definitely keeps him attractive to potential suitors who would be willing to make deal for his services.
Either way, this basically comes down to the Oilers signing a player who has a defined role to fill, and still offers some upside. And if it doesn’t work out, it really doesn’t hurt the team at all.