Depending on how you feel about goaltender Mike Smith, the fact that Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland has said that he’s open to signing Smith to another extension may be good or bad news. 13-3-2 on the season, Smith has exceeded expectations for the Oilers and played extremely well in the face of criticism at start of the season that he wasn’t worthy of being offered another contract. Has he played so well, questions now are, does he deserve another one?
The Oilers will certainly have goaltending questions that require answers in the offseason. Smith will be a pending UFA and at 39 years old, he’s hardly a slam dunk when it comes to offering an extension. That said, it’s not a given the Oilers should completely discount talking about another one-year deal.
Holland explained to those who were critical of the decision to extend Smith this season, that when he looked at the veteran backstop’s 2019-20 season, he thought he played really good last year in October and November. He said the goalie had a down December but played really good in January, February, and March. From there, he had a bad first period in the bubble. He didn’t think Smith was a bad goaltender at all, but Holland said he told Smith’s agent he wanted to go “explore the marketplace.”
The GM added:
“You know, he’s 38 years old. You think when you’ve got a 38-year-old goaltender you’re never sure. It’s not like I’d spent 10 years with Mike Smith, I’d spent a few months with Mike Smith. We went out to the marketplace with $7 or $8 million to spend and had to sign five players.”
He said Smith was willing to take his $2.5 million base salary and move it to $1.5 million so the deal made sense. The end result has paid off and Smith has had a great season. Holland likes Smith’s win record, his almost .920 save percentage and he offers a presence with a ton of passion and is an excellent leader in the locker room and on the ice. Holland feels it’s taken a lot of the pressure off of Mikko Koskinen as well.
It’s Not About Age for Holland
“He’s a big influence on where we are in the season,” Holland said. He then went on to say that he had multiple older players into their high thirties and some into the forties and they did a lot of winning. Holland noted that he isn’t scared of age. “I don’t look at age, I look at how you play. If he keeps going what he’s going, why wouldn’t we want to do it again? He’s playing at a high level.”
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