Back In Flesh – Draft Redux And Ryan Smyth

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Proving you can go back. At least, if you're Ryan Smyth. Photo courtesy Edmonton Journal

Ninety nine times out of one hundred, I’m going to go for a positive edge in a story.  This team’s missed the NHL  playoffs each opportunity after the 2005-06 season, it’s almost easy to go after the negative end of something.

First off, a big congratulations to the fans of the Edmonton Oilers for witnessing something that I thought never would happen in my lifetime.  The Oilers were able to officially regain their heart and soul in a trade that saw Colin Fraser and a seventh round pick go back to Los Angeles for Captain Canada, Ryan Smyth. As I eluded to a week ago, this is a good trade for everyone all around.  The Kings just acquired Mike Richards from the Flyers a few days back, Smyth had quietly requested a trade back to Edmonton, the Kings were likely looking to free some cap space up, and the Oilers need something of everything.

It’s a perfect storm.  So let’s hurry it up and make it happen.

Not so fast.  What an unnecessary mess both Friday and Saturday were.

A rough timeline -

  • Last week:  Story is broken that Ryan Smyth wants to come back to Edmonton to be closer to his family.  Rumours swirl the internet that it might be because someone in his family is sick or otherwise.  (Smyth later quells these rumours in an interview with Team1260, but it was an added twist in the story that made it believable).  Smyth denies he requested a trade.
  • Last Thursday:  Los Angeles acquires Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers, all but making Ryan Smyth an expendable player.  It was becoming more and more obvious that Smyth was going to be moved, it was only a matter of time.  Inexplicably and out of nowhere, the Flames are determined to also be a player.  My Spidey-sense had determined that this was all hot air, but Calgary was playing their cards well if it was.
  • Last Friday Afternoon (Draft Day 1):  Rumours began circulating Twitter that Calgary had become a major player in this deal.  Was reported by some that a deal had been agreed to between LA and Calgary, but Smyth had to waive his no trade clause.  People died, animals cried, and Edmonton was bracing for the vortex of suck that would surround the city if Captain Canada was to be dealt to the arch-rival Flames.
  • Last Friday Evening (Draft time)  It is confirmed that the Oilers had reacquired Ryan Smyth for a pick and Gilbert Brule.  People cheered, animals sang together, and everything was right in the world.  The Oilers drafted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and all was good.
  • Last Friday Evening (Two minutes after drafting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins)  Oilers General Manger Steve Tambellini is asked to elaborate about the trade that sent Gilbert Brule and a pick to the Kings for Edmonton’s beloved son.  Tambellini denies that a trade has occurred, and that talks continue.  Fans seem optimistic that this deal will get done.  But wait, Calgary is again a ‘serious player’ in the Ryan Smyth sweepstakes.
  • Last Saturday (Draft Day 2)  I am drinking this and eating this next to the incomparable Derek Zona of the Copper and Blue when the realization hits that the Oilers have selected all their picks in this year’s draft.  There goes that ‘draft pick’ part of the deal that was supposed to help reacquire Smyth.  Now what?  A pick in next year’s draft?  Another player?  Isn’t Los Angeles trying to shed salary?  So many questions.  Why is this so difficult?  More Flames talk.  Is Ryan Smyth really going to waive his NTC to go to Calgary?
  • I wake up Sunday to discover that Ryan Smyth has been dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for the team’s 4C Colin Fraser and a seventh round draft pick.  While it may not change the demographic of the team a whole lot, why did the Oilers jump from Brule to Fraser?  Why from a third round pick to a seventh?  Is it because Brule has had injury troubles?  Did LA not want to take on Brule’s salary?

This appeared to be a monstrously easy task to undertake:  LA is trying to dump Smyth, he wants to go back to Edmonton, LA doesn’t want to take on a giant contract, one-two-three, pull the deal.  I personally think that Calgary was just trying to blow smoke in Edmonton’s way, but was it really necessary to allow Calgary to stick their fingers all in this deal?

You.  Think about this.  Try not to say “They reacquired Smyth, and that’s all that matters”.  That does matter, yes.  Smyth will no doubt be able to put pucks in the net as well as help the younger guys along.  That’s an immeasurable gift that he will bestow upon the Oilers.  And, it’s a nice story to have Smyth back, as he wanted to be here.

But why was this so difficult to have happen?  The whole transaction should’ve been a ten minute phone conversation with the deal being written on a McDonald’s napkin.  Pleasantries should have been lobbed, thank you’s should have been used, and everyone could go away happy.

I’m glad the Oilers have Ryan Smyth, I really, really, really am.  It appeared that it could’ve gotten really out of hand quickly, and had Ryan Smyth not had been as dedicated to coming home as he was, this near-fiasco could’ve ended in a much different tune.

Have your say:  Is anyone else astounded at how poorly this all went down?

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