Time and money. Wouldn’t all of us like to have more of both? I certainly would, and I’m guessing Ryan Smyth feels the same way. That’s why it’s far from a slam-dunk Smyth ends up re-signing with the Edmonton Oilers.
In case anybody has forgotten, time and money put an end to Smyth’s first go-round with the Oilers. When GM Kevin Lowe didn’t offer Smyth and agent Don Meehan enough dough during the 2006-07 season, the sides ran out of time, resulting in Smyth being dealt away to the New York Islanders and a teary farewell at EIA when 11th-hour negotiations fell through.
Five years later, we can debate how, if and where Smyth fits with the Oilers moving forward – Jonathan Willis offered yet another take today – and use all kinds of statistics and scenarios to justify our positions, but my sense is time and money, as it often is in the hockey business, will be the bottom line.
Smyth and Meehan turned down a contract offer from the Oilers before the trade deadline – a deal believed to be two years at $2 million a season – and now time comes into play. We’re already into May and GM Steve Tambellini has a lot on his plate that bumps Smyth down the priority list.
I can understand why Smyth wouldn’t jump at a two-year deal in the $2 million range. Fair enough, but, that means he’s going to have to wait for another offer, assuming there is one.
Tambellini has a full plate these days. His own contract extension hasn’t been made official, yet. He’s got a coaching decision to make. Is Tom Renney coming back? If not, then who comes in? That’s not exactly a bit of business you take care of in a day or two, as we’ve seen.
Tambellini’s scouting staff is in Palm Springs preparing for the 2012 Entry Draft and kicking around what to do with the team’s third consecutive first overall pick. He’s going to have a hand in that. Then, he’s off to the World Championships. After that, there’s preparation for the NHL combine. When that’s done, it’s off to the draft and later, free agency.
If Smyth feels like he’s been put on the back burner after turning down Tambellini’s first offer, there’s good reason for it. He is on the back burner. Time and timing plays into contract talks with a lot of players, especially third-liners, which Smyth is now.
We’re not necessarily re-visiting 2007 and rushed series of phone calls between Meehan and Lowe at the deadline because there is still plenty of time to sit down again, unlike the final hours of his first tour here, but Smyth is going to have to bide his time.
Smyth, 36, made $4.5 million in real money and had a cap hit of $6.25 million in 2011-2012 in the final year of his last contract, so he’s going to have to take a significant hit in the wallet in any new deal. The question is how much of a hit he’s willing to take.
If Smyth and Meehan expect an offer from the Oilers in the range of $3 million a year, they might as well start considering their options elsewhere July 1 because that isn’t going to happen in Edmonton. And it shouldn’t.
The Smyth fans saw in the first 20 games or so this season made for a feel-good story in his return to the Oilers. He sure looked like he was earning every cent of his salary. The last 60 games? Not so much. If you split the difference, that’s my best guess as to what we get moving forward.
If the Oilers decide Smyth is a fit – and there are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides of that debate — they’ve got to decide what his role will be and what they’ll pay. Smyth, no doubt, has his own numbers, term and dollars, in mind. That, with one offer turned down, will have to wait.
Time and money.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.