As the trade deadline approached in April, Ladislav Smid was a month away from unrestricted free agency and without a contract. Multiple rumors about Smid being moved (Pittsburgh was a rumored destination) popped up and Smid himself put an end to those rumors with a very public statement about his preferred destination, salary and term.
One day later, Smid signed a 4-year contract worth $14 million.
Overall, this has to be classified as a pretty strong move for the club. Smid is very vocal about his love of being an Oiler and wanting to stay in Edmonton. Getting him locked up avoids compounding a lack of NHL depth on the left-side with the likely impending departure of Ryan Whitney. The fact that they were able to do so at a reasonable cap hit bodes well for the team's ability to make future improvements to their blueline for next season.
Most of our readers were very happy with the deal, and thought the Oilers landed great value for a top four defenseman going into his 27 year old season. Hjalmarsson's recent contract brought to light just how much value the Oilers have with the latest Smid deal:
The extension will keep the 26-year-old defenseman under contract for the next six-years, as the deal expires after the 2018-19 season. Hjlamarsson's new deal will carry an annual average value of $4.1 million against the salary cap, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
Here's how the deals stack up:
|Age||UFA||Cap Hit||Age||UFA||Cap Hit|
Hjalmarsson is still under contract for a $3.5 million cap hit as a result of a 4-year, $14 million offer sheet from San Jose, so his new contract kicks in next season - when he turns 27. The Blackhawks bought an extra year of unrestricted free agency from Hjalmarsson, one that Smid publicly stated he wanted.
Why am I comparing the two deals? Take a look at the even strength numbers:
*Data taken from Smid/Hjalmarsson Player Card at behindthenet.ca
They're eerily similar players. As they've entered their mid-20s they've both graduated to tougher assignments, and though Hjalmarsson is clearly getting the butt end of the zonestarts in Chicago, they've both produced similar results.
Things aren't much different on the penalty kill:
*Data Taken from Smid/Hjalmarsson Player Card at behindthenet.ca
Both Smid and Hjalmarsson are top pairing penalty kill guys producing similar results, though Smid plays more minutes thanks to the depth on Chicago's blueline.
Two nearly identical players signed UFA deals just five months apart, yet Hjalmarsson landed $600,000 more per season for the life of his contract. Either Hjalmarsson's deal is now more indicative of the market for left-handed defensive more skilled at minding their own zone than entering their opponent's zone, and the Oilers made out like bandits to sign Smid when they did or Chicago overpaid Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Either way, the extra $600,000 in cap space is going to be important to Edmonton as they sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Justin Schultz to their second contracts and look to re-sign Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk.