Another game, another in-game injury. This seems to be happening a lot as of late, doesn’t it?
Today’s victim apparent is Ladislav Smid. Smid suffered what may have been an arm or shoulder injury in the first period, effectively ending his night at 5:05 played over six shifts. The degree of severity of his injury is not yet known, but he won’t return to the game.
There are a handful of silver linings to Smid’s injury:
- He doesn’t play big minutes, so his loss is less felt than, say, T.J. Brodie’s would have been.
- He’s not an upcoming UFA, so unlike David Jones’ brief scare or Karri Ramo’s season-ender, an injury to Smid likely doesn’t disrupt any trade plans or attempts to sell anyone for assets.
- His injury could warrant a recall, which could see another kid get the chance to show his stuff in the NHL.
- It was (hopefully) his arm or shoulder, not his neck. Smid suffered very serious injury concerns regarding his neck initiated from a hit received from Simon Despres back in December 2014 that left him unable to play another regular NHL shift until late October 2015. So as long as it’s his arm or shoulder that’s injured as speculated, and not a neck or head problem, this is significantly better than it could be.
Hopefully, Smid’s overall health won’t be impacted.
But as for the on-ice product that is the Flames, this could pose an opportunity that could better the club for the future. In the immediate, the Flames have to finish this game with five defencemen, which means Jakub Nakladal should, hopefully, get a bit more time than he otherwise might have (and it’s entirely possible that Nakladal is actually better than Smid).
In the long-term future, the Flames may be able to get a head start on auditions for spots for next season. When Dennis Wideman was suspended, Stockton Heat Head Coach Ryan Huska listed three potential recall replacements for him: Nakladal, Brett Kulak, and Tyler Wotherspoon. Should a recall be necessary, we would likely get the chance to see another kid in action – and one who may be able to improve the backend in the immediate while making a case for the future.
Wotherspoon is an upcoming RFA who saw a fair amount of NHL time in his rookie professional season, but was largely ignored in 2014-15. Kulak, meanwhile, actually started this season in the NHL, and should be better now that he’s played more professional games.
The rest of this season will likely be geared towards the future. You want all the best for Smid, obviously – but if he’s unable to continue, the team might actually be a bit better for it.