The Edmonton Oilers locked up one of their key blue line pieces in Ladislav Smid signing him to a 4 year, $14 million contract.
Smid, set to become a UFA at season’s end, is the Oilers leader in blocked shots as well as the team’s top defensive defenseman. He also forms half of the top shutdown pairing on the back end with Jeff Petry.
At $3.5 million per year it’s also a number the Oilers can live with. It’s up from the $2.25 million he was making, but reasonable for a player who plays the tough minutes Smid does.
Getting Smid signed and not letting him go to free agency was a priority for the Oilers for two reasons.
First, for a team with loads of talent up front, they are thin on the blue line, especially in terms of players that can keep the puck out of their net. Smid is that player to a tee. While he won’t give you much offensively, he’s rock solid in his own end and has done well over the past two seasons playing against the other team’s top line.
Secondly, it avoids trade deadline speculation and the possibility of having to move him rather than lose him in July. More importantly, for an Oilers team that is just one point out of a playoff spot, he is the kind of player that every team in a playoff race needs in their lineup.
Regularly near the top in ice time, especially on the PK as well as hits and blocked shots, Smid is as reliable and tough a foot soldier the Oilers have to have in their lineup. At just 27 years old, he is just entering his prime and could be a key to the Oilers being a regular participant in the playoffs over the next number of years.
He may not be the face of the defense or the one to garner the biggest headlines, but you would be hard pressed to find a player more respected for the game he plays in the Oilers locker room than Ladislav Smid.