Thursday, October 9, 2008

Brule and Smid are in the Same Boat, Yet they are in Different Bodies of Water

Let's look at the similarities.

Gilbert Brule 1st round pick, 6th overall in the 2005 Draft
NHL Career Totals: 146gp. 12-20-32 52pim.

Ladislav Smid 1st round pick, 9th overall in the 2004 Draft
NHL Career Totals: 142gp. 3-11-14 95pim.

While there is almost 2 years separating them in terms of age, they are both young and talented hockey players that have failed to translate their games to the NHL. Brule's mix of speed, skill, and grit was seen as good enough to translate to the league. So was Smid's size, puck moving ability, and defensive awareness.

However neither have lived up to their billings yet. One seems to be getting handled properly by getting sent down to the AHL for a potentially lengthy stay to rebuild his confidence and game, yet the other appears to be ready to ride on the pressbox express in Edmonton.

Why is this the case? Why wouldn't the Oilers decide to send Smid down to play a ton of minutes and expand his confidence and game? Why limit this treatment to the newly acquired player?

Further complicating this issue is the fact that this is the last season that either player can be sent down to the AHL due to waiver eligibility. What makes it even more tricky is the fact that Brule can only play in 14 more NHL games before he is able to be plucked off of waivers and Smid only has 18 games before he is also able to be plucked off of waivers if the Oilers decide to send him down.

The Oilers have to make the right decision with both players and they don't have much time or leeway to make mistakes.

With Jason Strudwick's bump into the number 6 defense position, what sense does it make to keep Smid sitting in the pressbox? Like Brule he has had a number of opportunities, and like Brule his results have been underwhelming. Would it benefit Smid more to practice with the team, or to be playing a ton of minutes in Springfield in all situations? It would also better serve the Oilers to gauge Taylor Chorney's and Theo Peckham's play in comparison with Smid's over a lengthy period.

Here's to hoping that the Oilers do the right thing and treat the similar situations exactly the same. Making the NHL is a huge accomplishment, however once you get there you have to produce to keep your spot, it's better to get sent down early to lengthen your career later.

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