Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid
continues to grow as an NHL player. Despite the Oilers recent struggles, Smid has proven to be a valuable asset that this Oilers team could not live without.
Smid may not always be the first player that comes to mind when asked which Oiler stands out, but he has developed into quite the reliable commodity. He has quietly gone about becoming a top shutdown defenceman in this league. Although it’s not flashy, he’s getting the job done and that suits the Oilers just fine.
What has been really promising is Smid’s continued improvement year after year. He has earned more and more ice-time and has been relied upon to play a shutdown role against other team’s top offensive units.
|Smid is a big part to the Oilers defence. |
Smid along with fellow teammate Tom Gilbert have done a solid job against the best the opposition can throw at them night in and night out. This role has not gone unnoticed by head coach Tom Renney.
“He’s been a steady and dependable player on the back end all year for us,” said Renney.
Smid finds himself playing over 20 minutes per game on most nights this season, a huge jump from the 14:57 he averaged back in 2008/09. He also currently sits at an even +/- rating for the season, an impressive stat considering the team’s recent slide and the caliber of competition he sees each night.
“It’s great for a hockey player’s confidence to know his coach is willing to play him against the other team’s best players,” said Smid.
Smid currently leads the team in two very important categories. He is the team’s top hitter dishing out 79 so far this season. He also leads the team in blocked shots with 86, a total good enough for sixth overall in the NHL. It’s these little things that really make Ladislav such a valuable asset.
“Everybody has a different role to play and I just try to play mine to the best of my ability.”
After scoring his third goal of the season last night in Minnesota, Smid now sits at six points (3G, 3A) on the year. With over half a season left to play, Smid is on pace to beat his career high of 10 points (3G, 7A) which he put up in his rookie season. Not really known for his offensive production, the increased totals just speak to the overall progress in Smid’s game.
|Smid's attitude has helped turn him into the player he is today. |
“It’s always nice to score," explained the defenceman. "Hopefully I continue to do more of it.”
The great thing about Smid’s steady improvement is that it extends beyond just what he does on the ice. His work ethic has made him one of the fittest players on the team and he helps set an example for the younger players coming up. His upbeat attitude is also seen as a welcome dynamic in the dressing room. Ladislav Smid
has been in the league long enough now to be considered a leader, something he is certainly becoming. He has worked on his game and has continued to improve in nearly all aspects of the game. With more players like Smid on the back end, the team should have something to smile about.
Author: Travis Knee | edmontonoilers.com