Got one. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

After One Year, Is The Ryan Smyth Reunion Tour Already Over?

With all the uncertainty that goes into an offseason, I really thought that this deal would have been completed months ago.  I mean, surely the team would come to a deal that would keep Captain Canada a member of the Oilers for life, right?  There’s no chance either party could screw this up, I mean right?

Here we are on the 29th of June.  We’re less than 48 hours to free agency, and fans are still twisting in the wind over whether or not Ryan Smyth will remain an Oiler for the likely remainder of his NHL career.

The facts:  Ryan Smyth finished with 46 points (19-27-46) in 82 GP.  This is a player who obviously has offence to contribute to this team.  There’s no getting around it.  He should remain an Oiler at least next year.

So what’s the hold up?

Smyth and Meehan turned down a contract offer from the Oilers before the trade deadline – a deal believed to be two years at $2 million a season – and now time comes into play. We’re already into May and GM Steve Tambellini has a lot on his plate that bumps Smyth down the priority list.

-Robin Brownlee, “Time And Money” at Oilers Nation (02 MAY 2012)

  • TERM?  I can remember watching Ryan Smyth and Scott Oake on Hockey Night’s After Hours talking about how Smyth feels he still has a lot of gas left in the tank.  Every guy who’s contributing at 35+ will tell you that he’s got a half a tank remaining.  Honestly, I think a two year deal is very fair at this point.  In my head, I see Smyth starting and three, and the club starting at one.  I’m not sure that this happened, but how about two years, and a one year deal if the tires are still rolling?
  • MONEY? Smyth’s cap hit was a lofty $6.25M, although he made $4.5M in actual dollars during the 2011-12 NHL season.  It’s well documented that Smyth asked for a trade from the LA Kings to the Oilers last season, so you know he wants to remain an Oiler.  It’s my belief that management knows this more than anyone.  If the $2M a year for two years is true, I can understand Smyth wanting to play a little hardball.  It wouldn’t shock me to see the team cave at more money for a shorter term (say, $3M at one year), but would anyone have any trouble with a two year deal at $2.5M a year?  It’s a steep cut in pay from $4.5M, buy unless you’re David Jones on the Avalanche, you’re not going to see that money here.
  • ACCEPTING A REDUCED ROLE:  With the Oilers picking Nail Yakupov first overall in this year’s NHL draft, the wings on the top two lines are pretty crowded.  If Smyth was relegated to the third line, would this be a sticking point?  If Smyth only fetched twelve minutes per night, would he be willing to accept a reduced role?  If he was signed to 2.5M a year and was able to churn out 35 points a year,  I think we’d all be OK with it.  Would he?

It’s likely that at least two of these bullets (or maybe all three) are keeping Smyth from signing on for at least another year.  Without being on the inside, I’m not entirely sure of what’s happening in these conversations, but I can’t again see Ryan Smyth leaving Edmonton for another city.  On that very same After Hours with Scott Oake, I remember Smyth saying that if he would be traded to Calgary that he’d play for the Flames, so I guess anything is possible.

Remember the whole hullabaloo when it was rumoured that Smyth wanted to come back to the Oilers, but the Oilers couldn’t decide on what compensation the Kings were to receive?  Remember all of a sudden how Calgary showed up out of nowhere, like an angry landlord looking for an advance on rent?  How they were “in the mix”?   I didn’t buy much of it then.  I still don’t buy much of it now.

I’ve heard on several occasions that Tambellini will meet with Smyth and his agent on Saturday night to hammer out an ‘eleventh-hour’ style of deal.  This reeks of the dramatics that were pulled about how the team wasn’t sure if they were going to draft Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, or a pepper shaker.

My heart says he’ll be signed.  My brain says I can’t see how this team would be ready to face the backlash of letting him walk.

About a half hour ago, I asked my followers on Twitter if Ryan Smyth would be re-signed.  Out of 22 responses…

10 said YES

12 said NO.

Sunday’s going to be an interesting day.

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