So, to start.. LADI SMID!! An Oiler for at least 4 more years (@ $3.5M per year). Excellent news. A lot of people just don’t fully realize just how good a defensive defenceman Smid is. He is an excellent shutdown defenseman. These types of defensemen are often unheralded. In my opinion, if you are a defenseman, you should excel at your end of the rink before you excel at the other… so I have far more respect for the Orpik, Smid, Girardi types more than I do a Byfuglien, Gonchar, Campbell types. Anyways, Smid’s deal is on the low end for a shutdown defenseman, especially considering that he is solid ont he breakout. He’s everything this high flying offensive team will need to be successful, and I’m very happy about this. A couple quick stats for you here: Smid is 15th in Hits this year, 4th in blocked shots (only 3 behind the leader). Last year he finished 7th in blocks.
Now on to rumors… rumor has it the Oilers are going to hang on to Ryan Whitney for their playoff drive. I’m OK with this. Chances are the value out there for him is horrid. I’d say, at best, they are looking at a 2nd rounder.. maybe a little more. We don’t really need draft picks as much as we’d need a solid defender. I’m not sold that Whintey is that solid of a defender, but he’s been playing a lot better as of late. I always hope for the best with our players, so I hope he can prove everyone wrong about him (including me).
The Oilers are also said to be looking to offer Khabibulin another year. This one.. I just don’t know. I will say that Khabibulin is obviously a superb teammate and great influence on Dubnyk. However, we are talking about a guy who’s played all of EIGHT GAMES this year and has shown signs of fatigue after at least 3 of those. It is definitely time for this gentleman to retire, if you ask me. The tough thing is, in games that he played this year, he has almost always been stellar. So that makes it tough for a guy to think “I am done here..”. It would be nice if the Oilers offered him a coaching job. I think fans don’t realize just how good a team guy he is. He’s extremely well liked by the other players, including Dubnyk who speaks very highly of him. But when a guy is done, a guy is done. I don’t see how we can realistically go into next year with a guy who tires out playing an eight of the season. Dubnyk can’t manage the rest of the load, and we’d be foolish to pick up another goalie and go with a 3-headed monster again.
On to tonight’s game.. the Oilers are on a high.. the Flames traded away their best player… we should smoke them. I will be unhappy with anything other than a regulation win. The Flames will want to win with hard work.. the Oilers will have to work hard as well. Hard work often beats skill.
No word on lineups just yet, but I’d imagine they stay pretty much the same. I’d like to see Fistric back in, in place of Potter, perhaps. He’s falling too quickly out of favor, I think, but I like him.
Edit: Forgot that Lander got called up.. he’ll be in for sure. I’m guessing he centers line 4, Jones sits, and Smyth plays with Horcoff and Yak.
OILERS LINES (UNCONFIRMED)
Hall – Nuge – Eberle
Paajarvi – Gagner – Hemsky
Jones – Horcoff – Yakupov
Brown – Smyth – Petrell
Smid – Petry
N. Schultz – J.Schultz
Whitney – Potter