The Edmonton Oilers could soon have clarity on the future of Duncan Keith and Mike Smith.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Oilers gave Keith and Smith a deadline of “around July 1” on choice to return or retire.
“The Oilers have asked Mike Smith and Duncan Keith, to let them know by around July 1, if they do plan on returning next year, or if they are considering the potential of retirement,” Friedman said on the 32 Thoughts segment of Saturday night’s Rangers-Lightning broadcast. “You all heard Mike Smith after Edmonton was eliminated, how emotional he was about the potential of his future.”
Keith and Smith both have one year remaining on their contracts: Keith with a cap hit of $5.8 million and Smith for $2.2 million. Keith is 38, while Smith is 40.
Keith had a goal and 20 assists in 64 games for the Oilers this season, his first with the team after being acquired via trade last summer. Smith, meanwhile, has a 56-27-10 record in 99 games with a goals against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .913 over the past three seasons in Edmonton.
Of course, the date Friedman reported doesn’t really mean all that much. There’s no rule in the NHL CBA forcing a player to retire simply because he hasn’t communicated to the team he’s under contract to that he’s coming back. As long as they want a roster spot next season, Smith and Keith could theoretically have them.
NHL free agency is set to open on July 13.