According to Elliotte Friedman, Mike Smith played most of this past season “really banged up” and even if he chooses not to retire this coming season, there is a chance that Smith hits LTIR and isn’t available for the Oilers. As such, GM Ken Holland is making preparations not to have Smith in the lineup for most of the 2022-23 season.
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Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Friedman discussed a number of topics related to the Oilers and when he got to Mike Smith, he said that the veteran netminder finished this season in rough shape. Jeff Marek believed Smith played through most of the 2021-22 campaign injured. Friedman then confirmed earlier reports that the Oilers have asked Smith to make a decision by July 1. He’s got another year left on his current deal but Friedman said he’s still fighting through injuries and he’s far from healthy. That could explain one of the reasons Smith was so uncertain about his future when he spoke with the media at the end of the season.
Friedman reported that from sources he’s talked to, Smith is actually legitimately thinking about retiring.
What Does This Mean for the Oilers?
If Smith retires, the Oilers will be in the market (they probably are already) for a new starting goaltender. The plan seems to be to bring up Stuart Skinner and play him in a backup role, but if Smith isn’t around, and with Mikko Koskinen having signed in Switzerland, the Oilers need a new 50-60-game guy.
If Smith hits LTIR, the Oilers are likely going to approach the season in the same way they would if Smith announces his retirement. Having Smith on LTIR removes his hit from the books, the only real difference being that they’ll need to have room to bring him back if he gets healthy or trade him. Plus, they also don’t accrue cap space during the season while Smith is on LTIR.
Expect the Oilers to go goaltender shopping. The most common names attached to the team have been Ville Husso, John Gibson (if he’s actually available) and a potential free agent like Darcy Kuemper.
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