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.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.