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NHL Edmonton Oilers

NHL Rumors: Will Ryan Smyth Be Bought Out This Summer By The Edmonton Oilers?

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

So everybody knows that Shawn Horcoff‘s contract will be bought out this summer by the Edmonton Oilers, and likely within the first hour or so of them being able to do so. He’s a nice guy and you can’t begrudge him for getting his, but that cap hit is first-line center money and Horcoff is a third-line center talent. Edmonton needs a do-over on that deal, so he’ll be cut real quick.

But could the Oilers already be thinking about using the second amnesty buyout that will be available to them? And could they be thinking about using it on Captain Canada himself, Ryan Smyth?

Absolutely. Shocking as that idea sounds, it might actually happen.

When Smyth forced the Los Angeles Kings to trade him before the start of the 2011-2012 season, Oilers fans rejoiced because they were getting old Smytty back and hardly had to pay a thing in order to make it happen. Tom Renney was still the coach then, and he had a thing for playing the old guard and not forcing the kids to do too much. Smyth tallied 46 points and played all 82 games. Not bad for a guy who turned 36 in February and looked like he was out of gas by season’s end.

But fast forward to 2013 and things are very different now. New head coach Ralph Krueger knows the Oilers’ future belongs to the kids, so he is playing them more than Renney did. Smyth has slowly slipped down the ladder to the point where he was a healthy scratch for Tuesday night’s loss to the Dallas Stars. Smyth was surely livid about this, but the numbers don’t lie. In 12 games so far he has managed to score two points and has looked very slow. He turns 37 in a week so he’s obviously not getting any younger.

Smyth’s playing time has dipped by almost four and a half minutes from last season to a career-low 14:46 per game this season, and this is a career low by a landslide. In his last season with the Kings he averaged 18:02 minutes of ice time per game, and before that his previous low had been 19:12 back in the 1999-2000 season with the Oilers. He’s not scoring, he isn’t finding much chemistry on the third or fourth lines and he’s having trouble keeping up with the speed of the game even in his decreased role.

He only has one more year left at a 2.25M cap hit after this season, but considering the youth movement going on in Edmonton and his lack of production so far, Smyth’s days in Edmonton might very well be numbered. Stay tuned.