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Old 02-10-2007, 02:54 PM   #735
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Default Is Ryan Smyth expendable?

I know it would be impossible but i would looooooooove to see this guy in a avs sweater...

EDMONTON - If the Edmonton Oilers believe they still have a shot at making the playoffs on, say, Feb. 25, general manager Kevin Lowe likely won't entertain any thoughts of trading free-agent winger Ryan Smyth before the NHL deadline two days later.

But what if the Oilers are 10 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the last post-season spot in the Western Conference in two-and-a-half weeks?

Then what?
Ryan Smyth: Trade clock is tickingView Larger Image View

What if Lowe can't get close to re-signing the 30-year-old left-winger to a four- or five-year contract as the trade deadline clock ticks down?

Doesn't Lowe, at least, have to pay attention to what other Stanley Cup contending teams might offer? You can be rest assured that GMs from teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes would be on their cellphones if the Oilers fall out of the playoff picture in the next few weeks.

What happens if a powerhouse team offers their first- or second-best prospect or a first-round draft pick for Smyth, who bleeds Oilers blue and is the most popular player with local fans.

What if Anaheim GM Brian Burke, for example, offered 19-year-old winger Bobby Ryan, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft, because they could use Smyth to play on a line with Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald?

Maybe Carolina GM Jim Rutherford says, "here's Andrew Ladd and a draft pick."

Wouldn't Lowe have to listen? Sure. But nobody has called about Smyth -- yet.

Nobody has called up Lowe with a pitch that makes him say, "hmmm!"

NHL general managers obviously feel that Smyth, who's having a terrific season and is on pace to score more than 40 goals despite missing 10 games, will re-sign with the Oilers. Or maybe they don't want to give up anybody of value now for a rental because they might be able to sign him themselves on July 1.

The Oilers are reportedly offering Smyth between $4.25 million US and $4.5 million a season, which probably isn't enough for a player of his calibre.

Smyth is looking for both a long-term contract and more money, quite possibly a five-year, $25-million deal. The Oilers may be willing to sign him for five years, but may not be willing to part with the cash. How about a four-year package?

Smyth turns 31 on Feb. 21, so a five-year pact may be a reach for Lowe and company.

When Glen Sather was in charge of the Oilers, the team didn't sign free-agent goaltender Curtis Joseph before the 1998 trade deadline and opted not to move him because they needed to make the playoffs and make some money for the owners. Cujo got the club into the post-season and they won a round before he left for the Toronto Maple Leafs, grabbing a four-year $24 million deal.

During Lowe's tenure, Doug Weight was traded when money was definitely an issue. He also dealt Bill Guerin before it became one.

Lowe thought defenceman Eric Brewer was going to cost him too much down the road, so he had no trouble putting him in the Chris Pronger deal with the St. Louis Blues in August 2005.

That has always been Lowe's modus operandi: Get something if you can't afford a player. But Weight and Guerin were moved before the salary cap and Lowe absolutely knew he couldn't pay either star in the old free-spending NHL.

For now, Lowe still plans on signing Smyth before the trade deadline. Lowe feels Smyth, who was sixth overall in the 1994 draft, is the perfect Oiler.

As for Smyth, he also has to know he has a good thing going here. Neither the Oilers, nor Smyth's agent have slammed down the phone because they're insulted with negotiations thus far.

Lowe seems more interested right now in acquiring a puck-moving defenceman. He's a buyer, not a seller.
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The Oilers are being careful about the Bruins' Brad Stuart. Boston has reportedly asked for more from the Oilers (a roster player and a solid prospect or a high draft pick). They're not going all out to get him because, like most teams, they feel Stuart wants to return to California (his wife is from there) and there's a good chance he'll sign a free-agent deal this summer with the Los Angeles Kings. His old GM, Dean Lombardi, drafted Stuart for the Sharks.
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