Will Jason Smith be the latest former Edmonton Oilers captain to come home?
It’s happened before — GM Kevin Lowe, head coach Craig MacTavish and assistant coach Kelly Buchberger wore the “C” here, went elsewhere and then returned — and it could happen with Smith, who was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers with Joffrey Lupul last summer in the deal that brought Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson to the City of Champions.
I can tell you this much — the Oilers have made inquiries about Smith and have talked on more than one occasion to Calgary-based agent Art Breeze about the mean-as-hell-and-tough-as-nails former captain, who is an unrestricted free agent. “There have been some preliminary discussions with the Oilers, along with a substantial number of other teams,” Breeze said today.
OIL ON SHORT LIST
Smith, 34, has had interest from “about a dozen teams,” according to Breeze, who indicated the Oilers are on his client’s short-list of teams being considered. “The phones started ringing two minutes after 10 a.m. on July 1. Teams started calling on Jason,” Breeze said. “His presence in virtually any locker room with any club is a monster plus.”
Smith struggled with injuries this past season — it was revealed after the season he played with two dislocated shoulders — and tallied 1-9-10 with 86 penalty minutes in 77 games as captain of the Flyers. While there’s definitely some miles on his odometer after 945 NHL games and so many battles, a healthy Smith might be just the type of player the Oilers could use, given how the make-up of their line-up has changed.
Having traded away Matt Greene and Raffi Torres this summer, the Oilers line-up isn’t exactly rife with robust bangers. In fact, critics say the roster, as it stands now, is soft. There’s nothing soft about Smith, who has been kicking ass and taking names since the New Jersey Devils drafted him from the Regina Pats of the WHL in 1992. Right now, he’s in Los Angeles rehabbing his shoulders and working out.
Questions about Smith’s foot speed and how much he has left in the tank at this point in his career are legitimate, but there’s no question he could be a fit in young line-up laden with kids like Ladislav Smid, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. Breeze said today he expects Smith won’t take much longer to make a decision on where he’ll play this coming season. “I think we’re going to make a decision imminently,” Breeze said. “That’s all I can say. It will be very quickly.”
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