FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Ladislav Smid

Ladislav Smid probably wasn’t supposed to play this past year. His 2014-15 season effectively ended when he suffered a headshot from Simon Despres on Dec. 12, 2014. He played three games about a month later, but that was that, and he spent the rest of the season on LTIR.

Considering how unpredictable and dangerous neck injuries – what Smid had suffered then, as well as in the past – can be, and how long he was out for, it was assumed Smid would spend the 2015-16 season on LTIR.

He didn’t. Smid recovered enough to participate in training camp, and within the first month of the season, he was back on the ice.

Until it happened again, and his year was over early once again.

Season summary

Even taking out his injury problems – which no doubt played a massive role – Smid had a bad season.

He was available from late October to Feb. 17, when a hit knocked him out of a game against the Minnesota Wild. He didn’t play every game over that time frame, sometimes a healthy scratch as he was at the bottom of the depth chart. 

Smid only played 22 games all season, and he averaged just 11:35 a game: a career low by over two minutes. He was held pointless for the first time ever (although in the 31 games the season before, he mustered all of one assist), and had just 11 shots on net.

To put it bluntly, Smid was a complete non-factor. He played just one game for the Stockton Heat relatively early in the season on an extremely short conditioning stint, and was simply behind the rest of the game throughout his time in the NHL.

It sucks, because you feel for the guy. He didn’t ask to suffer bad injury after bad injury to render him completely ineffective. But all he was through the season was a drain on the cap, his $3.5 million hit only causing problems.

Impact on team

On the ice, Smid could have effectively been replaced by Tyler Wotherspoon, and the Flames would have been better for it.

smid usage

Smid played about the same circumstances Wotherspoon did: moderate zone starts, but incredibly easy competition. The key differences between the two? While Wotherspoon put together a strong audition – a 5v5 CF of 53.17% – in nearly identical circumstances, Smid posted a 5v5 CF of 46.81%. The player seven years younger (not to mention roughly $2.5 million cheaper) was astronomically better.

Smid was the 11th worst Flame to play at least a quarter of the season in terms of corsi. To be fair, four defencemen – Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, and Jyrki Jokipakka – all had worse corsi stats, but they also played significantly more, and in more difficult situations, at least by virtue of quality of competition.

What comes next?

The Flames can’t afford to have Smid. They literally cannot afford him; his cap hit is far too great, he doesn’t do anything on the ice to justify it, and we are at the point where the Flames would be better off if he spent the entire season on LTIR.

That’s an awful thing to hope for, but in the callous world of just numbers, it’s the best option. Buyout periods are limited, injured players cannot be bought out, and nobody is going to take him in a trade. 

This isn’t to say he should retire, because in his own personal interest, that would be an awful decision: he’s probably never going to have as great a chance to make the remaining $4 million he’s owed. If Smid’s career is over this time – and we don’t even know that – he’s not going to get a contract this sizeable ever again, and to throw the last year away makes no sense for him.

And the Flames will just have to find a way to deal with the problems his cap hit brings if it comes to that. They traded for him; they brought it on themselves. In the absolute best case scenario, Smid recovers and is an effective defenceman, but we’re probably well past that point. All he’s really doing now is causing cap headaches and obstructing younger players from getting on with their careers.

There’s one year left on his contract, but his time as a Flame needs to be over.

  • Kevin R

    Seems to me Arizona is going to really be scrambling to get to the cap floor next year. I wonder if our 3rd with Smid to them makes any sense at all?

    Edit: I would up to a 2nd if they take both Raymond & Smid

      • freethe flames

        I believe it does count at the start of the season and then they get relief once the season begins. This makes it more difficult to sign FA in the off season but gives you options once the season starts.

        Chris Philips just retired because of an ongoing back injury I hope Smid’s Dr’s and family took notice. Please retire for the sake of your own health and your family. Flames should do the right thing and give him a job in hockey op’s somewhere. If he is declared healthy then the Flames should do the right thing and buy him out.

        The long term cost of buying out Stajan(while I agree is a legit option) will probably make this unlikely. As long as the flames think they can move Wide’s they will not buy him out. It may be better to trade Eng’s as his contract may be more attractive than Wide’s and he actually had a reasonable season last year.

      • Am I right?

        You are correct, but the players salary is never really removed from team cap, also LTIR is only useable if the team spends close to the cap limit. Basically it’s cap space minus players cap hit, the difference being what you can exceed the cap by. If player gets healthy and comes back, team must become cap compliant again.

  • Hockeyfan

    Engs is worth keeping. if anyone is bought out it should be mayray. trade Wides for Fleury (yes i think he is an excellent tender), Stajan to Chicago for Shaw? or someone else or picks, who cares, get him gone, Smid, he is not giving up what, 3.5 mil, buy him out or give him to Oilers, throw him in with Fleury trade, whatever, needs to be gone. Bouma, I said we should have traded him last year, now we are stuck with him. I would rather have prust here than him.

  • FireScorpion

    You just know he’ll be healthy enough with all this time off to be cleared to play once the season begins. And than last a whole 13 games or something. Annoying

  • freethe flames

    Smid is so polarizing because he seems like a good man and because of injury; if he was not injured and played at the level he did last year I doubt anyone would hesitate in buying him out.

    Speaking of a defenceman we need to move I have been bemoaning that I can’t find a suitable trade of bad contracts for Wideman and no one has come up with an option. Here is on that I want to float: Wideman to Toronto for Milan Michalek. We save @1m and get a forward who 2 years ago had over 30pts and they get a 3rd pairing defender who can play on their second power play. (they also have the cap space) Both contracts expire at the end of the season.

    • Burnward

      Way too low. I think we’ll be surprised at the value Wideman has.

      One year removed from top 10 in defenseman scoring, seasoned vet, and more importantly maybe…a right hand shot. Those seem to be in high demand. Plus with just one year left, it’s not onerous to take him on.

      His NMC could be sticky, but he probably understands the situation.