Mike Smith’s season debut was originally thought to be coming on Thursday in the second half of their back-to-back set against Vancouver. However, he was a late scratch with Stuart Skinner joining the Oilers from their taxi squad as Mikko Koskinen’s backup. Whatever the issue is will hold him out for a little while as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports (Twitter link) that Smith has been placed on LTIR, meaning he will miss at least 10 games or 24 days.
The 38-year-old is in his second season with Edmonton after signing a one-year deal with them in October after other options didn’t materialize in free agency. Noteworthy is that the contract contains up to $250K in games played bonuses at varying thresholds between 20 and 40 games; any extended absence will all but cement the top ones becoming unachievable and make the smaller ones a little tougher to get. With Edmonton well into LTIR, any earned bonuses this season will be charged against the 2021-22 salary cap.
Smith’s expected absence and Skinner’s inexperience (two minor pro seasons with no NHL action) could force GM Ken Holland to try to make a move for a more proven short-term backup. That was supposed to be Anton Forsberg’s role but he has since been claimed off waivers twice, the second of which came today by Winnipeg. With players needing to go through a quarantine period (seven days for Canadian-based players, 14 for those elsewhere), if such a move is coming, it’s one that will need to happen sooner than later. In the meantime, Olivier Rodrigue has been recalled to the taxi squad but he was playing in Austria so he is facing a lengthy quarantine before he can join them so that recall alone may not be enough.