Calgary Herald

No long-term damage for Oilers defenceman

- JOANNE IRELAND

The uneasiness sat with Ladislav Smid right up until the test results revealed that there was no structural damage in his neck.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman was bulldozed by the Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown on March 30, an unpenalize­d hit from behind that knocked Smid out of the lineup four games shy of his first 82-game NHL campaign.

The biggest concern was whether there was any longterm damage, considerin­g that Smid had a herniated disc removed in March 2010.

“I was really worried at first, but the MRI was negative. Nothing had changed in that area, which was a huge relief for me. He just hit me in a bad spot,” said Smid.

“I just need some rest to let the nerve recover.”

Smid did not travel with the Oilers to Vancouver to conclude their sixth straight non-playoff season

I just need some rest to let the nerve recover LADISLAV SMID

Saturday against the Canucks at GM Place.

If the Oilers upset the Western Conference leaders, who are an impressive 26-10-4 on home ice, and the Montreal Canadiens lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton will finish in 28th place.

Otherwise, the Oilers will head into Tuesday’s NHL draft lottery with the second-best odds of securing the first pick overall. Edmonton finished 30th each of the last two years, both times with a meagre total of 62 points, and had the No. 1 pick in both 2010 and ‘11.

The Oilers have 74 points this season, 11 more than the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I don’t know if they’re going to make lots of changes. You never know, but hopefully we can keep as many guys as possible this offseason,” said Smid. “We had a good start (to the season) and, in the end, we started to come back to being the team we want to be, so I think we can come back stronger.”

Smid, a leading candidate to be the Oilers’ defenceman of the year, was one of the league’s top shot-blockers (184) and the team leader with 186 hits. He was averaging almost 21 minutes of ice time in the Oilers’ top pairing and scored a career-high five goals and 15 points.

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