Oilers' Mike Smith fails team physical, heads to LTIR with future unclear

The Oilers placed 40-year-old netminder Mike Smith on LTIR on Wednesday. (Getty)
The Oilers placed 40-year-old netminder Mike Smith on LTIR on Wednesday. (Getty)

Mike Smith’s playing days appear to be numbered.

With NHL training camps opening Wednesday, Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland announced that the 40-year-old goaltender failed his physical and will be placed on long-term injured reserve before the regular season begins.

Smith, meanwhile, has since returned to his home in Kelowna, B.C., where he’s expected to continue recovering from various injuries that limited him to just 28 games last season. No timeline has been set for a potential return.

The Oilers were informed of Smith’s health status over the offseason, which, at least in part, prompted the team to sign fellow netminder Jack Campbell in free agency, handing the former Toronto Maple Leaf a five-year, $25-million contract.

With backup Mikko Koskinen signing overseas in Switzerland, Edmonton needed to shore up its goaltender position and has done just that with the addition of Campbell. The 2022 All-Star will assume the starting duties, with youngster Stuart Skinner serving as his backup.

Moving Smith to LTIR is significant for the Oilers as it’ll save them $2.2 million against the $82.5 million salary cap, according to CapFriendly. And with defenceman Oscar Klefbom also set to miss this season, the team should receive roughly $6.3 million in cap relief.

At 40, it's hard not to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Smith in the NHL. Given his recent injury history, the 6-foot-5 netminder could opt to retire after this season — or have no suitors — when his two-year deal with Edmonton expires.

The Kingston, Ont., native was selected by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round in 2001. He’s spent 16 seasons between five NHL franchises, including the Stars, Tampa Bay Lighting, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Oilers.

Smith has played 670 career games, posting a 299-263-78 record with a 2.70 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and 44 shutouts.

Last season, Smith put up a .915 save percentage, two shutouts and a 16-9-2 record during his third — and likely last — campaign with the Oilers.

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