Edmonton's defense hasn't been very good the last couple of years, and allowing Ladislav Smid to walk in unrestricted free agency would only make things worse. Tyler Dellow thinks the Oilers can pony up $4 million a season over 4 years for Smid's services:
What do I think the Oilers should do? Assuming a price of between $4MM and $4.25MM, I think that they should sign him and shoot for a four year term. They’re a rich team and it would make sense for them to front load the deal. If, say, they went $6MM, $4MM, $3MM and $3MM, it permits Smid to serve as a sort of transitional player to the Oilers defencemen who are developing elsewhere at the moment and, barring some catastrophic injury, ensures that they can move him on to someone else if they decide that they no longer need him in Edmonton and probably makes him a more valuable commodity if they were to do so.
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.
There are only three other defensemen available in unrestricted free agency who are capable of top four minutes, not an age risk and not an injury risk: Rob Scuderi, Ian White and Marek Zidlicky. Top four defensemen are going to be paid a premium in July and both the Oilers and Ladislav Smid's agent must realize this. If the Oilers can't sign Smid, they may be involved in a bidding war for Scuderi or White.