It was refreshing to see the Edmonton Oilers resign Ryan Smyth to a 2 year deal this offseason and have him stay with the club. I don’t know how his mindset would have taken things if he would have been exiled for a 2nd time from an Oilers uniform. Even though the aging warrior’s best years are behind him, the Oilers need a hard working, veteran presence like himself to become a role model for the younger, emerging Oilers coming through the pipeline. He’s shown to be capable enough in a top 9 role to manufacture around 20 goals. The thing that he cannot do anymore as shown last season is play big minutes. Tom Renney overplayed Ryan Smyth last season and his numbers deteriorated to the point where he seemed to be a shoe-in for 20 goals but ended the season with 19. Smyth started off the season great but slowly fell apart as the season went on.
The key for the upcoming season for Ryan Smyth to be reliable, chip in offensively whenever he can, and be a good soldier. The kids are watching and more than anything the Oilers need a vet that is going to buy into the logo and the program. Ryan Smyth just has to give everything he has in the tank regardless of the score. Push the kids to better all while being a mentor for them.
If I Could Grant One Wish – Time: The Oilers could really use the Ryan Smyth from 15 years ago, but alas, that player is no longer here. But what they do have is an honest player, who will score greasy goals, just not at the volume he did 15 years ago. Oilers fans know Ryan Smyth will give everything he has, but what Ralph Krueger needs to do is preserve Ryan Smyth so he is more fresh for the end of the year. Cut back his icetime, cut back his roles, but make sure he’s still bought into the program. The Oilers are still in the rebuilding phase, so the wins may not always be prevalent, but whats needed from the vets this season is positivity and work ethic. Ryan Smyth can still make a contribution to this team even if he is a step slower and and his hands aren’t as quick. His experience will come in very handy.
Prediction for 2013 - He will not play in every Oilers game. I know its not much of a prediction but Ryan Smyth is coming off of back to back 82 game campaigns. Random luck and Father Time will probably see that balance is restored either through injury or out and out ineffectiveness. Ryan Smyth may be at the point where the mind wants to do more but the body may not be willing. Either way, Ralph Krueger will have to keep tabs on his play just as much as he will have to keep tabs on the kids.