Ken Holland knew he was taking a risk last July when he signed veteran goalie Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million deal. “Obviously the problem with Mike Smith is that he’s 39 years old.” Edmonton Oilers general manager said during media availability late in the offseason. “Can he do it again?”
Maybe Holland thinks he’s betting on Mike Smith, who exceeded expectations last season, going 21-6-2 with a 21-6-2 goal average (GAA) and 0.923 save percentage (SV%), and A solid playoff run, though Edmonton’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets was a huge disappointment.
But in reality, Holland was betting on the Father of Time. You know, the one who never loses. Six months later, his perfect record appears to be intact.
Smith out again
Smith has remained healthy in only six of Edmonton’s first 34 games of the 2021-22 season and is on the verge of missing more games after revealing on Thursday (Jan. 13) that he has recovered. partial torn tendon in his thumb.Oilers coach Dave Tippet sounds unconfident and Said Smith would be out One to two weeks. Based on the goalkeeper’s recent history, we set the up/down to three weeks.
Thursday’s news came a full year from the Oilers’ 2020-21 season opener (January 13, 2021) against the Vancouver Canucks.Over the next 12 months, Smith Injured while warming up That night in Rogers Square, the nature of which is unknown and the manner mysterious.Smith ended up on the Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) and didn’t return until Edmonton turned 14th After missing nearly a quarter of last season’s 56-game schedule, this is the season.
This season, Smith managed to stay healthy for nearly a week before getting injured midway through Edmonton’s third game of the season, against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 19, and landing on the Injured Reserve (IR).He was due to return around the second week of November, but when Smith Setbacks” while practicing. On November 19, he was transferred to LTIR.
Related Links: Oilers can’t expect Smith to return from injury
If you had a nickel every time Smith was described as “everyday,” and every time he was thought to be coming back, you’d have enough money to pay Holland’s $4.4 million bet on Smith .
Finally, after Christmas, Smith was activated from LTIR and made his first start in 10 weeks against the St. Louis Blues on December 29. He held on for two games before getting injured and missing Edmonton’s next two games on New Year’s Eve against the New Jersey Devils before a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 5 Back to the Oilers. Now he is hurt again.
12 months of trials and tribulations for oilers
Smith, who has missed nearly half of Edmonton’s games since last season, can’t help but think it’s just the wear and tear of a 16-season NHL career catching up with a husband-and-wife man March 22, starting at age 40 months.
With no transparency about Smith’s injury, the Oilers did nothing to dispel the idea that his body was collapsing. Granted, they did reveal details about his thumb this week, but prior to that, Smith’s health was largely a guessing game played on talk radio and social media. His injury earlier this season? “Lower Body”.whatever made him drowsy few games after his return• “Undisclosed”.
Oilers in trouble
With a 2-9-2 record over the past 13 games, the Oilers are in free fall, going from the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division to not even making the playoffs when they start today.
In a media interview on Tuesday (Jan. 10), he discussed the team’s struggles, noting that Edmonton’s plan this season is to play alongside Smith and the 33-year-old. Miko Koskinen Split time between pipes. Holland explained that with Smith returning to the game, the Oilers finally had a chance to see how well they played against the Smith/Koskinen duo. The plan was delayed again.
It probably doesn’t matter anyway. Holland’s belief that Smith and Koskinen could combine to provide consistent, high-caliber goalkeeping to elevate the Oilers to Stanley Cup contention was a bit dubious from the start.
Nevermind, Koskinen has had unreliable and inconsistent performances (this will happen again in 2021-22; Koskinen has started 19 times this season and is already on a 6- and 6-game losing streak), Netherlands Ostensibly count on Smith starting at least half (but probably more) of Edmonton’s 82 games this season.
During the expansion era, only Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur, Gary Cheevers, Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph, Roberto Luongo, Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas played more than 40 games in a season of age 40 or older. Here are eight goalkeepers for nearly 55 years.
Blessing the oil workers in disguise?
Smith’s inability to stay healthy is not pleasing. No one should want to see a player injured, and Smith’s dedication to the Oilers and commitment to extending his career as long as possible is admirable.
But Smith’s absence is forcing Dutch action or GM won’t: recall Stuart Skinner Bakersfield Condors from the American Hockey League.
Since his debut season on Nov. 9, Skinner has appeared in 10 games and has a 2.70 GAA and 0.916 SV%, both of which are far better than Smith (3.76 and 0.898 in six games) or Koskinen (3.19 and 9.00 in 20 games). The promising 23-year-old is clearly Edmonton’s best goalkeeper in 2021-22 and may offer Edmonton the best chance to turn things around, although Holland thinks to the contrary. Skinner is expected to start Saturday (January 15) when the Oilers return to play against the Ottawa Senators.
Meanwhile, Smith just wanted to borrow more time. With his current contract, it’s not just an issue this season, it’s an issue for the 2022-23 season. The book may not close, but smart money is in father time.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.