Last November, the Calgary Flames made their second-ever trade with the hated Edmonton Oilers. While their first trade (done during the down-slide of Darryl Sutter’s GM tenure) was basically not very good – getting Steve Staios for Aaron Johnson and a 3rd rounder (used for Travis Ewanyk) – the second one was better for Calgary.
Calgary traded Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy. Smid was one of Edmonton’s better defenders. Once he arrived in Calgary, he was slotted into a bottom-pairing role and was used a lot on the penalty-kill. While his offense was virtually non-existent, he did turn into a pretty solid mentor for Tyler Wotherspoon before going down with an injury.
What can we expect from Smid in 2014-15?
In the shocker of shockers, Smid’s numbers have remained basically constant throughout the last five seasons. And in a shocker, a defenseman that gets very moderate shielding and is used in a shut-down role doesn’t score much. His point totals for each of the past four seasons? 9, 10, 15, a pro-rated 7 and 8. It probably wouldn’t shock you to learn that Smid very rarely got power-play time either with Calgary or Edmonton.
Smid is good for a goal a year, basically. He’s a fairly good player from his own blueline in, though. He’s not amazingly fleet-of-foot, but he’s efficient in his own zone and is generally smart with the puck. He’s basically Mr. Glass-and-Out, though when he has bad games, he doesn’t go glass and out and things get hairy in a hurry.
Overall, Smid is not Mr. Corsi, nor would you really expect him to be. He’s not the world’s greatest offensive player, so his stay-at-home skills usually don’t translate into much past center ice. Looking at his main defense partners in Edmonton, only Tom Gilbert was better with Smid than without him.
SMID’S 2013-14 NUMBERS
Smid’s a useful hockey player, but he’s not a guy built for strong possession numbers. In terms of possession stats, a “stay-at-home” blueliner operates under the same basic premise that Homer Simpson did in that episode where he became a boxer – the opponent gets into their zone and the hope is to use size and positioning to keep them to the outside, then chip the puck out.
As such, Smid never really got his feet under him in terms of his Corsi. Here’s a comparison of his five most frequent defense partners.
Only Wotherspoon was better with Smid, and that’s (a) with the smallest of sample sizes and (b) youthful exuberance. I imagine Hartley gave Wotherspoon a bit of a long leash because the Flames were already deep in the toilet by the time he came up from the farm, so why not let him loose a bit? (I’ve got an open mind regarding the pairing, though, and I thought they had some good chemistry.)
Smid’s usage fit in roughly in the middle of the pack on the team.
The four non-Giordano/Brodie regular defenders tended to get about the same level of shielding (Wideman a bit more, Smid a bit less) in terms of QualComp and variable amounts of zone-start sheltering. It’s not surprising to learn that Butler and Smid, the defenders thought to have little offensive upside, got less frequent offensive zone starts than Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman. All of these things make complete logical sense.
Ladislav Smid should not be relied-upon for offense. History says he will not provide much. He’s a shutdown defender. He’ll probably be on the third pairing, and Hartley’s past performance suggests that he’ll rotate the non-Giordano/Brodie defenders through (lesser) competition to balance things out a bit.
Smid’s probably good for around 10 points, though that depends on who he plays with somewhat. If Tyler Wotherspoon makes the team, there’s a chance that being paired with a young puck-mover could ignite his numbers a wee bit. That said, he’s still a stay-at-home player and his usage, deployments and history show that he’s very much at-home inside his own blueline and his various metrics reflect that. He’s less useful away from it, and how he’s been used since arriving in Calgary suggests that the coaching staff understands that fact.
But beware: if he’s paired with Deryk Engelland, who’s less useful in his own zone, his possession and scoring numbers could creep down to a scary degree.