The 2011-12 NHL season saw Ladislav Smid come to the forefront on the Oilers' defense. He led the team in total ice time, played the toughest minutes, finished a plus-4, and even chipped in 5-10-15 in 78 games. He's going to need a raise.
2011-12 was Smid's sixth season in the NHL, all of them spent in Edmonton. He was on the ice for a total of 1630 minutes and 32 seconds, which is 20:54 per game. It's tricky to find comparable players when defense is your calling card, but those criteria are a start. Below is a list of defensemen for whom 2011-12 was at least their sixth in the league, who played not less than 1600 minutes but no more than 1800, played at least 70 games, and who scored no more than 20 points.
The point total criteria helped to shorten this list considerably, but it's an important one because it excludes defenders who play a lot of minutes in offensive roles. Point production combined with hefty minutes would certainly increase the pay a player receives, but Smid's 5 goals and 15 points in 2011-12 were both career highs.
Below is the same list (excluding Smid) with their 2012-13 cap hits in bold:
Tim Gleason $4,000,000
Rob Scuderi $3,400,000
Jan Hejda $3,250,000
Barret Jackman $3,166,667
Mike Weaver $1,100,000
Johnny Oduya $3,383,333
Bryce Salvador $3,166,667
Brooks Orpik $3,750,000
Nick Schultz $3,500,000
Smid's 2012-13 cap hit: $2,250,000
If there is no 2012-13 season, then these players will be some of Ladislav Smid's comparables from the last time there was actual NHL hockey going on. The loss of the season would also mean losing the last cheap year of Smid for the Oilers, as player contracts count whether the games are played or not.
As an aside: losing the entire season would be worst for Ryan Whitney, as there would be no way to know how he could have bounced back in 2012-13, and thus no way to know how to properly deal with him as a UFA.
Getting back to Smid, he looks to be in line for an average pay bump of a million dollars or more, as everyone on the list above carries a 2012-13 cap hit north of $3 million, save for Mike Weaver. It wouldn't be out of the question for Smid to get into the $3.5 million range considering his importance to the team and what he could ask for as a UFA. He's every bit as effective as Nick Schultz, and younger to boot.
I've mentioned how the Oilers could be in a financial bind in 2013-14 if the salary cap falls, and Smid's fair market value won't help that situation one bit. The Oilers are obviously aware of the need for some hard player decisions in the near future, as evidenced by Kevin Lowe's recent statements. Retaining Smid for the future (at this point it would be a mistake not to do so, in my opinion) could be part of the reason that the Oilers have to move someone else out the door. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing shakes out.