After reporting that Ryan Smyth wanted to remain an Oiler and sign a new contract, venerable Edmonton Journal scribe and Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Matheson spilled the beans on which teams were interested in acquiring the 36-year-old forward at the trade deadline.
The unlucky suitors? Nashville and Detroit, apparently.
They were both hot to trot for Smyth, especially the Predators who are dying for a top six forward, especially one with net presence. Nashville likes Ales Hemsky, too, but liked Smyth more, in large part because coach Barry Trotz has a history with the Edmonton Oilers’ winger from the world championship when he was a coach for Canada. The Red Wings have Tomas Holmstrom, a similar type, antagonistic player around the crease, but Homer, who just got honoured for playing 1000 NHL games, is on his last legs and is basically a fourth-line, PP guy now.
Matheson says there was no clear sign who was in play for Smyth, but that Edmonton liked Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis “a lot”. (To be fair, the Preds probably like Ellis a lot too — maybe more than Edmonton — considering they took him 11th overall in 2009.)
As for what kind of deal Smyth will get from the Oilers? It’ll be nowhere close to the $6.25 annual cap hit his last deal had, so a good comparative is the contract then-35-year-old Todd Bertuzzi signed with Detroit in 2010 (two years, $3.9 million).
This is all asuming Edmonton wants to keep him in the fold, of course. After a red-hot start to the season Smyth has fallen off recently, scoring just once in his last 17 games.