Ryan Smyth

Oilers finally acquire Ryan Smyth from Kings for Colin Fraser, seventh round pick

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It took a couple days for it to happen, but Edmonton Oilers can finally rejoice/breathe a sigh of relief: Ryan Smith will indeed return to their team. The deal itself is a little bit different than expected, though; instead of costing the Oilers Gilbert Brule and a fourth round pick, the Kings receive Colin Fraser and Edmonton’s 2012 seventh round pick in the trade.

Previous reports indicate that Brule’s health issues were holding up the trade, but there was a sense that it was a matter of time before the two sides would work something out.

From the Oilers perspective: Oilers fans love Smyth and Smyth loved Edmonton. That much was clear when Smyth cried during the press conference to announce the trade that sent him from Edmonton to the New York Islanders during the 2006-07 season. Smyth played his best hockey as a member of the Oilers, including a career-high 70-point season in 00-01.

Beyond Smyth’s solid offensive production, Edmonton benefits from his leadership and experience. This Oilers team is full of young players so Smyth could “show them the ropes.”

From the Kings perspective: Of course, the problem with Smyth is his price tag: he’s in the final year of a deal that produces a $6.25 million salary cap hit. That’s not a big deal for the Oilers – they still need to spend a bit more than $5 million to get to the salary cap floor and his actual salary will be $4.5 million next season – but it was a significant consideration for Los Angeles.

If Brule and a fourth round pick really was the original asking price, then the Kings received a lesser package two days later. Dropping from a fourth round pick to a seventh rounder is the most obvious downgrade, but Fraser doesn’t have the same ceiling as Brule.

Fraser’s career high in points so far is 19 (09-10 with Chicago) while Brule scored 37 for Edmonton in 09-10. Fraser was a third round pick (69th overall in 2003 by Philadelphia) while Brule was yet another ill-fated first round draft pick by Columbus (sixth overall in 2005). Much like Nikita Filatov and Nikolay Zherdev, Brule has been a pretty big disappointment in his still-young career, so the Kings probably didn’t lose that much.

It’s also possible that Fraser might be a better fit for the Kings’ system since his defensive game is more mature. Ultimately, the on-ice assets Los Angeles received are far less important than the salary cap relief generated from getting rid of Smyth.

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In the grand scheme of things, both teams benefited. The Oilers regained their beloved rugged forward while the Kings saved a ton of dough. Honestly, there might be a third team that benefits: the Calgary Flames. By losing out on the Smyth sweepstakes, the Flames avoided another bad contract in a litany of foolish deals. It looks like this will be one of those deals in which everyone wins.

Ducks waive former first-rounder Noesen

Arizona Coyotes v Anaheim Ducks
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Stefan Noesen, one of the pieces Anaheim acquired in the Bobby Ryan-to-Ottawa trade, has been placed on waivers (per TVA).

Noesen, 23, has appeared in 14 career NHL contests — all coming with Anaheim, and 12 of them this season in what amounted to his first extended look at the NHL level. The 21st overall pick in 2011 scored two goals in those 12 games, but only averaged 6:33 TOI per night.

The biggest reason Noesen’s struggled to establish himself is his health — or, specifically, the lack thereof. He missed almost all of the 2013-14 season with torn ligaments in his left knee, then missed four months during the ’14-15 campaign after an opponent’s skate blade nearly severed his right Achilles tendon.

When healthy, he’s shown to be an effective scorer at the AHL level. He had six goals and 15 points in 22 games for San Diego this season.

Noesen signed a one-year, two-way extension with the Ducks this past summer, worth $600,000 at the NHL level. Because of that relatively low cap hit, his pedigree and the fact he only turns 24 next month, there’s a decent chance someone could take a flier on his services.

 

Washington is ‘basically destroying everyone right now’

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals (c) celebrates his goal at 15:45 of the first period against the New York Islanders and is joined by Nicklas Backstrom #19 (l) and T.J. Oshie #77 (r)at the Barclays Center on January 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher didn’t mince words analyzing tonight’s opponent, the visiting Washington Capitals.

“They’re basically destroying everyone right now,” Boucher said on Tuesday morning, per TSN 1200.

And, well, he’s right.

With Monday’s 6-1 blowout of Carolina, the Caps extended their consecutive points streak to 14 games — the second-longest in franchise history. Washington is 12-0-2 during the streak and has scored at least four goals in eight consecutive games, and one of those losses came in overtime of a thrilling 8-7 tilt against the Penguins.

The streak looks even better in graph form:

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Unsurprisingly, the Caps have dotted the NHL’s weekly three stars announcements throughout January. Braden Holtby earned third star honors back on the 9th, Nicklas Backstrom netted first star on the 16th and, yesterday, T.J. Oshie scored third star of the week.

Those awards underscore the story in Washington — everybody is contributing across, the board.

Like last night, when Dmitry Orlov‘s rare two-goal effort helped the Caps past the ‘Canes. Or the game prior, when Matt Niskanen‘s three-assist performance pushed Washington over Dallas.

The Caps are a dangerous club at the moment. Even the players are willing to acknowledge it.

“We got all four lines rolling and with our depth and our ability when every line’s going, we’re tough to stop,” Oshie said, per ESPN. “Things are going well right now.”

Poor goaltending, lack of finish to blame for Kings’ latest loss

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff, left, looks at New York Rangers' Mats Zuccarello after Zuccarellos scored a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, in New York. The Rangers won 3-2. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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It was the story of the Los Angeles Kings’ season last night in New York:

— Lots of shots, but not enough goals.

— Not many shots against, but too many goals allowed.

The Kings fell 3-2 to Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers despite winning the shot clock by a huge margin: 38-17.

“I think we had a lot of opportunities. You’ve got to finish,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “At the end of the day, we need better goaltending in there.”

Jeff Zatkoff was between the pipes for the Kings. His record fell to 2-7-1 with an .881 save percentage. So expect to see Peter Budaj tonight in New Jersey, and probably Thursday in Carolina, too.

The Kings (22-21-4) have lost four straight and sit three points back of Calgary for the second wild-card spot. The Flames also lost last night, and so did the team immediately below the Kings, the Winnipeg Jets. That was the good news for Sutter’s crew.

But with Jonathan Quick not expected back until March, it’ll be up to Budaj and Zatkoff to give the Kings the goaltending they need to get back into a playoff spot. And that’s a big ask for two guys who’ve played more AHL games than NHL games over the last few years.

As far as the offense is concerned, the Kings badly need more from Anze Kopitar, who only has four goals in 41 games. After all, Tyler Toffoli (lower-body injury) did not make the trip, and Jeff Carter can’t be asked to score every night. Carter (25 goals) and Tanner Pearson (14) are the only Kings with double-digit goal totals.

“We probably out-chanced them, what, five-to-one tonight? It’s the percentages,” said Sutter. “So the percentages are that you score on a percentage of those chances. The other team’s scoring on not-percentage chances, put it that way.”

 

No hearings scheduled after wild Flames-Leafs game

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None of the combatants from Monday’s incident-filled Toronto-Calgary game will face disciplinary hearings, an NHL spokesman confirmed this morning.

The two sides combined for 16 minor penalties across a nasty, chippy affair that included:

— Leafs forward Leo Komarov catching Johnny Gaudreau with a huge bodycheck.

— Flames captain Mark Gioradano quickly jumping Komarov in retaliation.

— A pair of Calgary youngsters, Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk, accused of slew-footing.

The incident that drew the most attention was Komarov’s hit on Gaudreau. The diminutive Calgary winger looked to be in trouble after the check — requiring assistance off the ice — but went through concussion protocol and was cleared to return a short while after.

Komarov’s hit was deemed legal, and he didn’t receive a penalty on the play.

“I feel fine,” Gaudreau told the Calgary Herald following the game. “It’s part of hockey, you’re going to get hit every once in a while and with the concussion-test stuff, they want to make sure you’re alright.

“So I had to go in there and do that, and it was fine.”