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As if things couldn't get much worse for the reeling Edmonton Oilers, it looks like veteran goaltender Mike Smith will be out of the team's lineup even longer than expected.
Head coach Dave Tippett revealed today that Smith has re-injured his thumb and will be on the injured reserve for another week or two weeks.
Check it out:
Smith has been limited to just six games this season due to injury and, as a result, the Oilers have absolutely spiraled in the standings during his absence. The 39 year old Smith signed a two year, $4 million deal with the Oilers this past offseason but, as mentioned above, has played just six games for the team since signing. He was a solid netminder for the team last season though, playing in 32 games and posting a sparking .923 save percentage.
With Smith on the shelf the Oilers have had to rely mostly on backup Mikko Koskinen who has been hit and miss not only this season, but for the majority of his pro career. The 33 year old Finnish native sports a 3.19 goals against average and .900 save percentage in 20 games with the Oilers this season. 23 year old rookie Stuart Skinner has fared much better, putting up a 2.70 goals against average and .916 save percentage in 10 games with the Oilers this season. He has been recalled from the AHL's Bakersfield Condors to the Oilers' taxi squad as a result of Smith's latest injury.
Frankly, if Smith is going to be out awhile longer then this team absolutely has to turn to Skinner. Koskinen simply doesn't inspire confidence and, at 33 years old, it's clear that he'll never ascend past the status of being a journeyman backup goaltender in the NHL. In Skinner though, the Oilers have a kid who has a legitimate shot of growing with the team and becoming a #1 netminder. I understand that this team can't really afford to go through any growing pains in net this season but... well... have you watched Koskinen play before? Surely Skinner gives them a better chance to win on a nightly basis AND he's 10 years younger with a bright future ahead. To me this is an absolute no-brainer. Play Skinner and let's see if the kid can right the ship.