(UPDATE: Ryan Smyth(notes) denies he requested a trade to the Oilers, via the Edmonton Journal, responding to the news with a "holy cow." Ah, but Helene Elliott of the LA Times reports "Dean Lombardi confirms he had talks with Ryan Smyth 'but I would like to keep those discussions private'" and that another source indicated that Smyth sought a trade for family reasons by that talks have stalled.)
Ryan Smyth wants to be an Edmonton Oiler instead of a Los Angeles King according to Bob McKenzie of TSN, who wrote that the "35-year-old left winger has indicated to the Kings his preference would be to play next season in Edmonton if a trade can be worked out."
The Kings, who are desperately seeking to upgrade their top-six forward positions, aren't about to give away Smyth for nothing. Yet they also realize market value for a 35-year-old, even one as productive is Smyth, is fairly limited. Smyth is on the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.5 million this season although the cap hit is $6.25 million.
The finances of all of this may also be an issue for the Oilers. Sources say the Oilers' management team may only be lukewarm to the idea of Smyth returning "home."
The impact this trade would have on both franchises is palpable ... and positive.
The Los Angeles Kings would dramatically improve their financials, for what should be a summer of significant moves, by shedding that cap hit. Kings bloggers Surly and Scribe spelled it out earlier this month:
He is respected, loved, has proven himself a mentor and a valuable contributor on and off the ice. With all of those accolades, the Kings have to find a way to trade him if they want to have any shot of improving their roster through free agency. His $6.25 million dollar cap hit is a leash around Dean Lombardi's neck that will keep our GM from making any significant acquisitions.
… If the LA Kings haven't asked Ryan Smyth to retire, I would be surprised. If Lombardi is not seriously considering trading him to the Oilers for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick, or another Canadian team, I would be down right shocked. There is that pesky no movement clause. If I know Dean, he sees that contract as the greatest obstacle he has to improve the on ice product. If I know Dean, he knows he has to make a move.
Should they acquire him, the Edmonton Oilers would add the kind of veteran intangibles that transition a team from a wayward collection of young stars and well-compensated vets into a cohesive playoff contender.
He's Captain Canada, for Pete's sake — a veteran gamer that plays with a body held together by scotch tape and willpower, who leads by example by hauling ass on every shift.
They'd also get a player who scored nine goals on the power play last season with Los Angeles, which would have made him Edmonton's PPG leader. And while left wing is pretty well-spoken for with Taylor Hall(notes) and Magnus Paajarvi(notes) … what, are we going to pretend that there's a debate about Ryan Smyth vs. Teemu Hartikanien or Jason Strudwick(notes)?
Edmonton fans? Yeah, they seem fairly excited about this potential deal, doing everything on the HF Boards short of designing a "WELCOME HOME" banner for the airport.
(Tin-foil hat time: Wouldn't it be rich if the Kings leaked this request, knowing that Smyth would likely only waive his no-movement clause for the Oilers and that the public pressure on Edmonton management to bring Smyth back would be so intense that they'd have to acquiesce? Oh, that's so Lombardian!)
Then again, as Rich Hammond notes, it might be the end for Smyth in Los Angeles, trade or no trade:
It's a bit of a reach to think that the Oilers would be willing to give up anything of substance in trade, although Smyth remains revered in Edmonton.
Here's one possibility: a buyout. The negative for the Kings would be that half of Smyth's cap figure would remain on the books for 2012-13, and they would get nothing in return (except cap space) for what is still a top-six winger when healthy, but the Kings do have Dustin Penner(notes), Scott Parse(notes) and Kyle Clifford(notes) on left wing, and of late they've been kicking around the possibility of having Brayden Schenn(notes) break in at left wing, particularly if they add a center through free agency (Brad Richards(notes), anyone?).
This trade request coming out probably means the end of Ryan Smyth in Los Angeles. As Kings blogger Eric Cooney said, "in hockey or in marriage, you don't get away with saying you want to be with someone else and salvage the relationship." That said, Cooney's happy for the old guy:
Good for Edmonton and good for Ryan. The two have obviously made an impression on each other and why would anyone want to stand in the way of that. The man should have his number retired in Edmonton simply for feeling this way. I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, I really mean that. How many people show such genuine affinity for a place they would choose this kind of career direction?
Seriously, watch the farewell presser again for Smyth. Maybe the Kings are better for having the cap space. Maybe they're worse for losing a veteran scorer and leader off a problematic left wing.
But if this thing goes down, you can't help but feel happy for the guy on some level. Circumstances were what they were in 2007 for Smyth and the Oilers, and they've changed for both in 2011. Get the mops out for Smitty if there's a reunion: