Hope for Ladislav Smid


To the left is the title character of this post, Ladislav Smid, wiping out a fellow named Gaborik along the sideboards. The 2007-08 season was Smid's second in the NHL, and superficially it wasn't nearly as good as the first.
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In 2006-07, Smid got a job in the top-six out of training camp after being acquired as part of the Chris Pronger deal. He put up 10 points and a -16 rating in 77 games on a team that started out mediocre and went downhill from there.
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In 2007-08, Smid lost his roster spot to the Tom Gilbert/Mathieu Roy combination, and started the season in the minors, where he put up 5 points in 8 games before being recalled. He tallied 4 assists and a -15 rating over the rest of the year. He was also the goat on all three Calgary goals at the only game I personally attended this year, an ugly, emotionless, 3-0 loss to the Flames. I came away from that game with a real anger towards the Oilers, and Smid, but I've gotten over it.
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Looking a little more indepth (by which I mean we look at the statistics at Behind the Net rather than NHL.com) we see that Smid's quality of competition rating is fairly static (.05, .01) while his quality of teammates dropped (.08, -.12) by quite a bit. Smid's EVGF/60 stayed even at 1.91, while his EVGA/60 rose (2.74, 2.93).
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This season, Smid was option #5 on the penalty kill, and with good reason. The only defenders with uglier numbers were Denis Grebeshkov and Matt Greene. So, even looking in depth, this season was an ugly one for Ladislav Smid.
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Where am I going with this, you ask? Simple. I was looking at the ages of Oilers players, and Smid's stuck out at me. He's 22 years old. The same age as Rob Schremp, Devan Dubnyk and Brian Young. A year younger than Marc Pouliot and J-F Jacques. Looking at the Oilers defenseman, he's younger by 2-3 years than Matt Greene, Joni Pitkanen, Denis Grebeshkov and Tom Gilbert. Sometimes he gets lumped in with that young core group, but he's still a few years behind.
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Defensemen generally take longer to develop. Tommy Albelin is a player that Lowetide has compared Smid to over the years, and at 22 he was putting up a 12-point season in the Swedish Elite League. I've always thought of Smid as stylistically similar to Jaroslav Spacek. At 22, Spacek was putting up a 13 point season in Czechoslovakia. Toni Lydman is another name that could be tossed out there. At 22, he posted an 11-point season in Finland's SM-Liiga.
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Smid was listed at 6'0, 209lbs on draft day. Four years later, he's 6'3", 226lbs. He's developed physically to the point where he can be a tough guy on a blueline that going forward is going to need some muscle. The mental development of his game will come along behind it, and I'm willing to predict that we see a breakthrough season in the next two years. And this is a good thing, because it's a decent bet that Smid will be coming into his own at the same time as this team looks to be a contender. At the very least, at this point he's a much safer bet than Matt Greene.
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Sorry about the stars- I couldn't get Blogger to put spaces between paragraphs, which made for some jumbled reading.


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