It didn’t take long for the Oilers to start signing some of the team’s key restricted free agents. Two days have passed since defenceman Ladislav Smid
received his qualifying offer, but Edmonton was eager to lock up the responsible, two-way rearguard as quickly as possible.
|Ladislav Smid scored 10 assists & 85 penalty minutes in 2010-11 (Photo by Dylan Lynch / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club) |
It was announced Thursday morning that Smid had been signed to a two-year extension, keeping the 25-year-old blueliner as an Oiler through the 2012-13 season with an annual salary of $2.25 million.
Smid is set to begin his sixth season in Edmonton after being acquired in the summer of 2006 in a package deal that sent Chris Pronger to Anaheim.
Completing the deal in short order has helped show tremendous commitment from both sides. Believing in where the Oilers are headed, Smid was impressed with how the process was conducted and is overly thrilled to be staying in Oil Country.
"I was really happy," he said. "The negotiations were smooth and it was pretty quick. It only took a couple days to get done. Both sides could see that I really wanted to stay in Edmonton, so it wasn't a problem and I’m really glad to be part of the team’s future."
Last season, Smid recorded 10 assists and 85 penalty minutes in a career-high 78 games. From a personal perspective, his 2010-11 season was successful. Smid, however, is most concerned with the team’s development. For a second consecutive year, Edmonton concluded the season in 30th place, earning another No. 1 overall pick, but missing out on post-season contention for a fifth straight campaign.
"We ended up in 30th place but, as a group, we weren’t that experienced and lost a bunch of games by one or two goals," Smid explained. "Near the end of the season, we also lost a lot of our key players. Hopefully this year we can stay healthy and play our system.
"Personally, I think I need to simplify my game. I need to keep my head up all the time and make sure I don’t overthink a play. Make simple plays, be physical every night and be solid every night. I think communication and making the first pass is the biggest thing, especially with the younger guys, but we’ll work on that.
"I have to keep improving, work with the coaches and keep listening to them."
Considering the return of Ales Hemsky
, Taylor Hall
, Ryan Whitney
and the addition of Ryan Smyth
to the roster, expectations will be higher than in years past. Rightfully so, says Smid, who doesn’t want to put any limitation on the team’s ceiling.
"We showed some bright signs last year of what we’re capable of doing," he explained. "Tom (Renney) wants us to play really aggressive hockey. We have to keep doing that. As a group we want to make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. Every year the goal is set like that. The Stanley Cup what everyone plays for."
Although the ice has been removed from the surface at Rexall Place for nearly three months, Smid has been busy working out in preparation for the season ahead. It’s a regimen he takes seriously, pushing his body to perform at such a high level.
"I've been working out for two months now," he said. "Every year I work really hard in the summer to be prepared for camp so I can be at my best. I think the off-season is really important for everybody."
Smid also insisted that the team’s work is paying dividends. In terms of what fans can expect to see next season, his message was simple and to the point:
"We’re going to be a good team. We’re going to be aggressive and work our asses off every single night."Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com