All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.
Ryan Smyth (LW)
2011-12 cap hit: $6.25 million
Smyth is one of this summer’s most intriguing cases. After forcing a deal to Edmonton last summer, he famously stated “I bleed Oiler blue” — suggesting he was primed to finish his career in Oil Country.
Now he’s just days away from hitting the open market.
Compounding the matter is Smyth’s lack of leverage. Everybody knows Edmonton is where he wants to be and he’s on the downside of his career — 46 points in 2011-12 was his lowest total in four years.
It’s also hard to see how he’d fit on an Oilers team featuring Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Alex Hemsky up front.
Well, it’s actually easy to see the fit. It’s on the third line.
And that brings up the question of money.
What would Edmonton pay a 36-year-old third liner? Many have pointed Milan Hedjuk’s deal with Colorado (one year, $2 million) as a comparable, which would be great for the Oilers but less so for Smyth, given it’s a pay cut of over $4 million.
Of course, Edmonton knows Symth wants to stay.
In the end, stubbornness may prevail. Smyth can probably find suitors — Detroit could use his net-front presence if Tomas Holmstrom retires, Rangers GM Glen Sather has always been a fan — or the Oilers could just walk away and accept the public relations backlash.