Edmonton Oilers Acquire Trash Bag of Moldy Hamburgers Named "Jerred Smithson"

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Jerred Smithson at least isn't offensively bad at hockey, Mike Brown style, but he's pretty bad and certainly not worth a fourth-round draft pick.

Jerred Smithson is 34 years old. A centre/right winger for the Florida Panthers, Smithson is acquired as a UFA rental to drive the Oilers over the hump into the playoffs for a fourth-round draft pick. He has four non-empty-net points and 22 shots so far this season. He is a poor man's Eric Belanger. It isn't the worst trade in the Oilers' recent history, happily: it's just the regular sort of stupid.

On TSN Ryan Rishaug praised "a fourth-round draft pick for a player who has the potential to make them better this year." In fact there is no such potential. Smithson, 34 years old, has been a sub-sub-replacement-level player since 2011 if not earlier.

The trouble with Smithson isn't that he's the worst player on the Oilers, but that he's an inefficient and unnecessary acquisition. He fills a relatively minor role at best and brings no skills worth even the crap-shoot at a useful player a fourth-rounder represents. He is AHL fodder on any decent team, which may be why he was unable to attract interest from one.

In February 2012, the Panthers acquired Smithson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. Despite Smithson playing 51 crummy games since then, going -5 with one goal on an actual goalie, and his contract expiring at the end of the year, the Panthers have actually managed to trade up on that. Dale Tallon just hustled Steve Tambellini. This isn't the nadir, obviously (a fourth-round pick is a long way from the end of the world), but it's still one for the Scrapbook of Tambicakes Incompetence.

Smithson's assets are that he's a veteran with playoff experience, big (listed 6'3"), and not just a truculent bastard. Smithson hasn't chalked up a fighting major since December 2009, which means he's being acquired for his hockey-playing qualities, and at least that's progress. He PKs a little on the worst penalty-killing team in the NHL since the 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs. He is certain not to be the worst forward on the Oilers and is very probably good enough to crack the fourth line. He is also good at the overrated-but-still-not-irrelevant art of faceoffs.

His problem is that he's bad at hockey. Smithson couldn't get more than ten minutes a night on the 2013 Florida Panthers, which should be a shrieking red siren right there. He's mostly washed up, his physicality and strength not compensating for his lack of mobility and always questionable positioning. His hands are crumbling cinder blocks, dropping goals against like most players drop girlfriends. While he won't embarrass you out there, he's hardly worth making special effort to acquire for a dozen regular season games and three minutes a night in the playoffs.

Particularly not when superior options are available for less. Mike Santorelli, a teammate of Smithson's who was probably his better and is certainly younger, was available on waivers. Adam Hall is cheaper, younger, at least as good as Smithson and certainly more versatile, and was also available for nothing. This is without even invoking the name of Jussi Jokinen, who was at least expensive but was available on waivers but just went with some salary held back for a conditional pick, or Michal Handzus, a quality veteran rental who could skate figure eights around Smithson but also cost a fourth-rounder.

You should seldom give up assets, even marginal ones like fourth-round picks, for fourth-line players unless that fourth-liner fills a valuable niche such as special teams excellence. Those guys are available for free as a rule, and even if you can't dredge one up from the American Hockey League (is Anton Lander dead?) you can get away with a crappy option. If the Oilers signed Smithson for the league minimum, I'd be perturbed because he's an inferior player. Instead they gave up a useful draft pick for him, and it's just more lousy asset management from the NHL's Patron Saint of Wasted Trades.

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