ryan smyth oilers

UFA spotlight — Ryan Smyth

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All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Ryan Smyth (LW)

Age: 36

2011-12 cap hit: $6.25 million

The skinny:

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.

More UFA spotlights

Ryan Suter

Zach Parise

Jason Garrison

Jiri Hudler

Justin Schultz

Shane Doan

Alexander Semin

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)