The Edmonton Oilers will be without starter Mike Smith for a little while, as he deals with a lower-body injury. Smith has been moved to injured reserve, while Stuart Skinner has been recalled to take his place on the active roster.
Smith, 39, was removed from Tuesday’s game partway through the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots and replaced by Mikko Koskinen, who backstopped the Oilers to a comeback victory. It will likely be Koskinen that gets the lion’s share of the work with Smith out, but Skinner is a more than capable backup at this point who showed in the preseason that he actually may be ready to take the next step. The 22-year-old netminder posted a .914 save percentage for the Bakersfield Condors last season and has picked up right where he left off, stopping 53 of 56 shots against in his first two minor league appearances this year.
Still, this is exactly the kind of thing that many Oilers fans worried about when the team decided to bring back Smith. The veteran netminder signed a new two-year contract that carries a $2.2MM cap hit, but now already finds himself on the shelf nursing an injury. With Koskinen’s extremely inconsistent past, the Oilers could be in trouble if Smith has an injury-riddled campaign and can’t carry the load.
He’ll have to miss a minimum of seven days now, meaning it’ll be Koskinen and Skinner splitting the upcoming back to back in Arizona and Vegas. Luckily enough, the Oilers only play once between this Friday and next Saturday, meaning Smith may not end up missing many scheduled starts. That is assuming of course that he returns rather quickly, something that is not a guarantee at this point.