Ryan Smyth Not An Option For Oilers

With all due respect to Ryan Rishaug of TSN, tweeting that Ryan Smyth would be a good fit for the Oilers was Rishaug simply tweeting his opinion. He's entitled to it, but in his position he might want to be more careful with his words.

Rishaug has been nothing shy of extremely informative since joining the twitter world. He got some great scoops at the draft, he's been adding updated news on players and prospects the Oilers have signed or were trying to sign, and he's been bang on with almost everything. Long story short, I'm a fan of Rishaug and I follow his tweets often. When he says something, I think it has legs and don't for a second discredit his ability to get inside information.

The problem is this bit of news was an opinion misunderstood as a possibility Edmonton was looking at. I don't think Rishaug realized just how much people might hang on his every word -- or tweets if you will -- because of his job title and associated clout in the industry. From his subsequent tweets on the same subject, it's clear he realized he should calm the waters before it became too late.

Mere minutes after Rishaug posted his tweets, the Oilers blogosphere was flooded with articles about the possibilities of Ryan Smyth coming back to Edmonton in a deal for Sheldon Souray. From bloggers like our little site here, to widely respected names like Robin Brownlee, writers have been giving their two cents. That's the beauty of blogging and what blogging is all about. Yet, this specific rumor has gotten way bigger than it should have.

My opinion might upset Oiler fans hoping to see Souray moved. My opinion is in definite disagreement with Rishaug and Brownlee who posted (or seemingly suggested) Souray possibly being moved for Smyth. I'm going to give it anyways.

Unless some major cards fall down and Lombardi loses his marbles after not getting Kovalchuk (or paying way too much to get Kovalchuk) Ryan Smyth for Sheldon Souray isn't going to happen. Not now, not ever.

I could go on and on about the reasons why this deal makes no sense. I could also go on and on about why I'd love to see this trade. If the Oilers could do it, I would be floored with enthusiasm. I like Ryan Smyth. He's captain material on a team that isn't sure who their captain should be and him being in Edmonton makes a lot of sense from an Oilers perspective. But for the Kings, this trade makes little sense. Here's why...

Sheldon Souray has absolutely no cache around the NHL right now. None. If a trade like this was an option it would have happened by now and Souray being placed on and clearing waivers should be an indication of that. With Souray's history of injury, his cap hit and his attitude, I don't see Souray's cache going up later down the road either. Unless Souray plays in the NHL to start the season -- and plays extremely well -- the Oilers were always aware that in any trade involving Souray, they'd be taking on salary. That wasn't going to be a surprise to anyone.

When it comes to specially using Kovalchuk as the trigger in this trade, here is where it gets even more complicated.

Kovalchuk is likely mere days away from making a decision. Even though he hasn't yet, everyone knew the Kings were on the top of the list from day one. Should Kings GM Dean Lombardi be successful in snagging Kovalchuk from free agency, he would have formulated some kind of plan to let the dominos fall once Kovalchuk was on board. If Rishaug has information on it now, why would he not have gotten information back then?

My guess, is because no conversation -- or at least not a serious one -- has likely taken place between Lombardi and Tambellini. If Smyth was trade bait, Tambellini would know (assuming he's doing his job shopping Souray). Furthermore, if Tambellini had some inkling that a trade like this was possible, why put Souray on waivers before Kovalchuk decides? It just doesn't make sense to risk losing Souray for nothing if a possible return you'd be interested in was Ryan Smyth.

Another huge factor here, is that this entire trade idea is reliant on the fact that Kovalchuk goes to the Kings. That's a big "if". Lombardi has now backed away from negotiations with Kovalchuk twice, which should give us some indication of the seriousness and stop at nothing mentality of the Kings to get this UFA deal done. The Kings would like Kovalchuk in the fold, but not at the cost of the teams recent success. Lombardi won't be willing to overpay and he won't mess up team chemistry, depth or momentum just to accomodate a player who's already proven himself to be a handful.

Signing Kovalchuk to anything more than a $7 million dollar cap hit per year risks the future success of the Kings franchise. Yes the Kings have $17 million in cap space (well near the most of any NHL team) but Lombardi has Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds all up for contracts by the end of next season and adding a player with a $10 million dollar hit no matter who you get rid of hurts your odds of re-signing all of those players.

Add to it that the logical choice should Kovalchuk get his $7 million plus wouldn't be to move Smyth. With the lack of left wing depth on the Kings roster, a name like Justin Williams or Michal Handzus makes more sense. They too have big cap hits and they too make adding Souray's number doable.

The Kings actually have depth in the center and right wing positions and could move one without shaking up too drastically the makeup of the team. In contrast, Kovalchuk and Smyth would really be the only two top six left wingers on that squad. Why trade Smyth which then gives your team only one?

This is not even considering the fact that Ryan Smyth has a no-trade clause in his contract. In blogs and articles I read, some pointed this out quickly. Just as quickly many pointed out that Smyth would be willing in a heartbeat to waive it and come back to Edmonton. Why and what makes people think this? I'm not suggesting he wouldn't. I'm suggesting the odds that he would or wouldn't are about the same. To me, there are lots of reasons Smyth might not want to return.

Smyth left the organization on not the greatest terms. The franchise felt like they had to move him because of his unwillingness to take a home-town discount. He was upset Edmonton couldn't boost their offer by a mere $100,000 to get a deal done. The result was being shipped to the NYI. I'm not saying there is, but perhaps there is still some left over feelings there.

The Oilers are also rebuilding and far from a cup contender. Smyth finishes out his current deal in two seasons and he's on the right team for that situation. How much longer will Smyth be playing with his recent injury history? Wouldn't he want a chance to win a cup which he's yet to do? Edmonton is likely the last place he'd have that chance and the Kings give him a shot.

By coming to the Oilers, Smyth would have to be willing to admit to himself he's not going to be anything more than a semi-productive mentor. That's a serious blow to a man who likely still thinks he has something to offer.

We're also assuming here that the Oilers would like to add a $6 million plus 3rd line winger. I'm sure to get rid of one contract they take on another, but Smyth being buried there isn't the answer for the Oilers. It's the lesser of two evils sure, but logic suggests Edmonton to seek options before they seek this one.

Ryan Smyth is a nice idea, but it's not a realistic one. Yes, stranger things have happened, but with everything the Oilers have done thus far, nothing to me suggests this move makes sense. If it didn, I'm hard pressed to see how it hasn't happened yet. What's your thought?


would be nice to see smitty come home but i agree that a lot would need to happen to make it a reality. I would be happy with a new puck bag for souray.

July 14, 2010 at 3:22 PM comment-delete

somebody needs to tell tambi that we dont need to sign all these career AHLers to contracts just because they were born in alberta.

July 14, 2010 at 3:27 PM comment-delete

Edmonton should trade Sheldon souray to L.A for Ryan Smyth, and with that add andrew cogliano or dustin penner for jarret stoll as a 2nd line center or 1st to win some faceoffs

August 14, 2010 at 1:33 PM comment-delete

I hope so, that would be a great trade for the orange and blue

June 20, 2011 at 2:35 PM comment-delete

smyth is alberta . bring him back who better then smyth besides holmstrom to take a beating in front of the net and score those garbage goals, no one last year had the stomach to do that for the oil. i think smyth would help the team in many ways. take hemsky for example , since smyth left what has hemsky done?

June 20, 2011 at 4:00 PM comment-delete

Or maybe he's just a man who wants the best for his family at this time. Such news should be highlighted in a NHL world where Edmonton will now no longer be the least attractive place to play after Atlanta moves to Winnipeg. Looks like the Oil will no longer be a true bottom dweller. Good news either way for the Oil - first Doug Weight talking good now Smitty wanting to come back. If I am Tambi - I do it!

June 21, 2011 at 3:09 PM comment-delete


November 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM comment-delete

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