On Friday, the Edmonton Oilers placed goaltender Troy Grosenick on waivers. On Saturday, he was claimed by the Los Angeles Kings. Grosenick, who backed up just twice, never appeared in a game for Edmonton after getting claimed off of waivers from those same Kings in January. The Grosenick news is good news for Mike Smith.
Smith, who was slated to start the second game of the season but instead was placed on LTIR, is close to a return.
The veteran goaltender practiced on both Thursday and Friday, and is expected to be removed from LTIR when he is eligible on Sunday. He’s likely to make his first start of the season on either Monday or Tuesday in Ottawa.
While most fans and some media aren’t thrilled at the prospect of the club running it back with Smith, teammate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is excited to see him ready to make his return.
“He’s definitely a presence for us in the room,” Nugent-Hopkins said when asked about Smith on Friday. “He’s an older, veteran guy who’s been around for a long time. He’s a super competitive guy. I’m sure you can see that on the ice. He brings us energy and we can rally in front of him. It doesn’t really matter who is in net for us, we got to play the same way and do everything we can to protect him back there.”
So far this season, Mikko Koskinen has started eleven of the 12 games played by the club. He is 5-6-0, while Stuart Skinner is 1-0-0 in his lone appearance.
Smith posted a record of 19-12-6 a season ago with a 2.95 GAA and a .902 save percentage. He also had one shutout, which oddly enough was a 1-0 shootout loss in Winnipeg early in the season.
Smith was strong in October, going 4-3-1 with a 2.29 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He struggled in November, and was downright pitiful in December of 2019. Smith did rebound nicely in January, when he provided a spark for the Oilers as they turned their season around. Smith was 5-0-2 in the month with a .920 save percentage. In February, he posted a .916 save percentage and a 6-1-2 record as the Oilers rocketed to second place in the Pacific Division.
They’ll be hoping that it’s the January and February version of Smith, not the November, December and August version, that returns next week.