RYAN SMYTH: TIME AND MONEY

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.

TIME

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.

MONEY

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.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    He still is a useful player, a fan favourite, and I would like him to stay but only on a year-to-year basis.

    PRV and Harti need opportunities soon to play regularly on the second and third lines. A two year or longer contract for Smyth hinders this.

  • 50 in 39

    If he isn’t overworked by excessive minutes and tough match-ups he will be a much better, more consistent player.

    He is an excellent third liner, who can move up if needed. He has the type of character, work ethic and professionalism (with skill) that a winning team would kill for on their third line.

    Pay him like a top end third liner and then actually play him third line minutes.

  • Truth

    Just sign him, the guy is a beauty.

    What message does it send to all the young guns in Edmonton that the Oilers brass don’t properly treat the biggest fan favourite in town? If I’m T. Hall or Eberle I’m paying attention; hometown discount, long term deal?? Just so you can screw with me later?? No, thankyou.

    This relates to your (Mr. Brownlee) article on Khabibulin last week. It was argued that Khabi should be kept around because he is a good soldier. I disagree, Khabi has been here for only 3 years and should be classified as a 3rd string goalie now (useless on an NHL team). Good riddance. Smyth should have been here since he was drafted and should be classified as a 3rd string winger. Sign him.

    • TwoSkidoos

      This doesn’t relate to the kids at all and people need to stop trying to make that connection. If your Hall or Eberle you are NOT paying attention because they are concerned with WINNING, they know its a business and maybe they are watching and saying to themselves why is Smyth wanting more money when we might be near cap team in a year or two.

      Smyth has played with the kids for ONE year so that argument is irrelevant.

  • Because the Oilers offered an overpay contract to Khabibulin they should do the same for Smyth?

    How are the Oilers going to find out where/if Paajarvi and Hartikainen fit into the mix moving forward if they’re playing behind Smyth?

    And, finally, will Smyth accept a third-line role and reduced ice time? Is he the right type of transitional player at this point in his career?

  • Wolfman

    Well my first post. I don’t want to rag on Tambellini I think he gets an unfair rap considering how handcuffed he was when took the job…but…what sense does this make?

    If they weren’t going to re-sign him why didn’t they trade him at the deadline? I bet Detroit might’ve given up something half decent for him.

    All that keeping him down the stretch did was force Hartikainen and Pajaarvi into the minors or down a couple spots. If he walks for nothing that won’t make much sense at all.

    And Smytty wake up man, you asked to come back and you made a boatload of cash already. 2 years at 2 mil/per and a future job in the organization is a pretty sweet deal for an aging bandaid.

      • Wolfman

        Yeah you’re right on that, but you’d think if he was offered a deal before the trade deadline as this article suggests then he’d have an idea of what type of deal he would be looking at moving forward…and if he didn’t like it then, why would he think they would offer more later? Doesn’t make sense from his point of view either.

  • Tha Legion

    Time to move on. Smyth is no top 6 player anymore, and doesn’t provide what a 3rd & 4th liner should IMO. He’s not a banger, fighter, checker, PK guy, etc., which a 3rd liner should be. This one year with the x-girlfriend is over, let’s move on. He cost the team Paajarvi’s minutes last year, cost him a year of development. Get over the X here Oil fans. It’s time.

    • Smyth is a banger and crasher, he is on the PK, he is on the PP, he can check and be gritty like a 3rd liner and he can move anywhere in your top 6! Now in what world is that not useful?

      As for Paajarvi, he was developing in the AHL playing more minutes and in every key situation, but I guess you also miss how he was doing in the NHL much like you did with your assessment of Smyth.

  • dawgbone98

    Oilers are willing to potentially sewer next year by spending $3.75 mil on a horrible goaltender but aren’t willing to spend $3mil on a guy who provides excellent depth as a top 9 forward.

    A guy who also just happened to finish 2nd on the team in TOI last year, despite the lowest PP TOI he’s had in years.

    In other words, if you don’t bring him back you need to find someone to replace him. That should be easy for this management group, they’ve excelled at replacing players and fixing holes.

    • Tha Legion

      There’s a huge difference. If Khabi’s contract was up this year you’d be guaranteed that the Oilers would let him go off into UFA territory without so much as a whimper. But he’s got one year left on a untradeable contract because of how the goalie market is. Smyth is coming off a very uneven year where he scored about 27pts in about 23 games and then about 19pts in the last 59 games. His defensive play was about average. The only thing that was somewhat consistent was his effort on the PK and I thought Jones, Belanger, and Horcoff were better on the PK in terms of stick checking, shot blocking, and applying pressure to the puck carrier. Smyth should not be resigned for that kind of money because it could be used elsewhere. Like using it to push for a top 4 dman come July 1st.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This issue shall pass without a whimper, compared to 2007. If 5 over 2 yrs isn’t enough, it could be kleenex time again. Maybe he came back one yr too soon.