Why Ryan Smyth Will Be An Oiler In 2011

News broke this week that Los Angeles Kings forward, Ryan Smyth, wants to return to to Edmonton and be an Oiler again. Smyth then came out himself and denied ever requesting a trade, a testament to his level of professionalism. But with the flurry of moves that took place yesterday, everything is starting to line up and point to a return to Alberta for Smyth.

Smyth, now 35 years old, and a $6.25 million cap hit, is reaching the twighlight of his career and simply doesn’t play at a level that can justify that pay. Even the $4.5 million he’s set to be paid seems pretty steep. And with the Los Angeles Kings receiving Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers, who is signed to a long-term mega-deal, and their need to resign their young franchise defenseman, Drew Doughty, to a lucrative deal of his own, it’s no surprise that Kings GM Dean Lombardi has said that Smyth would be dealt.

That’s where the Oilers come in. As a young, rebuilding team, many have questioned why they would deviate from that plan and trade for Smyth. But I’m not so sure they would have to. With Los Angeles’ hands tied by their current financial situation (just over $10.6 million in cap space as of today), and the Oilers financial freedom ($27 million in cap space), the numbers definitely line up.  As a result, the team wouldn’t need to sacrifice any significant piece of the future to acquire Smyth, and I can already forsee some type of deal probably getting done today or tomorrow involving role players and/or a couple of draft picks being moved to Los Angeles in return for a deal involving Smyth.

Now the next question is why the Oilers would actually want to pay $4.5 million for Smyth’s services. For any Oilers fan, this should be an easy answer. On a team lacking any real leadership and veteran presence, there is no better player in the league that could be brought into Edmonton to provide both. Smyth has never possessed the skill or talent to succeed in this league, but has instead relied on his gritty, tenacious, blue-collar style of play. He’s willing to do everything necessary to win, and would be a great role model on and off the ice for this young Oilers team. He would come in and immediately be placed with a letter on his jersey, and fill a top-six forward spot.

The Calgary Flames, another team rumored to have an interest in Smyth, have the largest salary in the league, and definitely can’t afford to bring in Smyth’s giant cap hit. Although they certainly see their window closing on their chances to win a championship,and would probably be willing to offer a much more favorable package for Smyth’s services. But I just can’t see a potential deal taking place that would result in Calgary being able to fit Smyth’s $6.25 million in their $7 million of cap space.

I would love to see the Oilers bring in Smyth, to bring his positive leadership and winning attitude to a team to help foster the young player’s growth. He is the utmost professional in the league, and would be a great teacher for the Oilers young core and strong presence in the locker room. There is no player in the league who loves the city of Edmonton and the Oilers organization more than Smyth, and he’d be a great ambassador for the team. All the intangibles that Smyth would bring to the Oilers would definitely make any deal for Smyth worth it for this team.

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