With expiring contracts such as Ryan Whitney, Nikolai Khabibulin and Ryan Jones, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Oilers move one of these players to try and acquire an asset to help them make the push for a playoff spot this season rather than lose these players to unrestricted free agency in the summer.
Before the 8-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames Wednesday night, the Oilers were only one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot—thanks in large part to a four-game winning streak—so instead of risking losing the momentum, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini decided to make one minor move.
Smithson, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is a versatile center who excels more on the defensive end of the game rather than putting up many offensive points.
Smithson also provides the Oilers with two huge assets currently lacking on the team: size and faceoff prowess.
Listed at 6'3", 209 pounds, the former Calgary Hitmen product has won 54.8 percent of his faceoffs this season and should provide the team with a reliable defensive-zone presence and could see some penalty killing time throughout the rest of the season.
Perhaps the biggest question facing Edmonton this season has been the depth on defense and the versatility of the forwards. The Oilers have an abundance of top-end players with amazing skill, but at times have lacked the strength and size to compete every night.
Thanks to the lopsided victory against the Flames on trade deadline night, the Oilers currently hold the No. 8 seed in the NHL's Western Conference, which in itself is a feat to behold considering how poor the team looked less than a month ago.
Perhaps the Oilers could have moved a younger asset such as Sam Gagner or Magnus Paajarvi (both of whom are restricted free agents at the end of the season) to try to acquire some help on defense or a rugged forward, but Tambellini decided to make a very minor transaction and acquired a piece that, while low-key, could be very valuable if the Oilers do squeak into the playoffs this season.
The team didn't part with any of its prospects or young assets, dealt away a low pick and are in the playoff picture. All in all, it seems as if the Oilers made the right decision by basically standing firm at the trade deadline.
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