on February 28, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)
Oilers trade Smyth to Islanders for prospects and picks
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – The Edmonton Oilers couldn’t reach a new deal with Ryan Smyth so they dealt the star forward to the New York Islanders just before Tuesday’s NHL trade deadline.
The Oilers received prospects Robert Nilsson and Ryan O’Marra _ both first-round draft picks _ and a first-round selection in this year’s draft for Smyth.
Smyth’s agent Don Meehan said that he and the Oilers talked over the last 24 hours but couldn’t get a deal done.
“I’m surprised actually given what Ryan is to the community and what he has been to the franchise,” Meehan said. “But I understand that with all due respect they have the ability to make these decisions and that’s what management has to do in these circumstances.”
Smyth, 31, is making $3.5 million this season and is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, meaning the Oilers were at risk of losing him for nothing in the offseason. It’s believed he had been hoping for a long-term deal with the Oilers worth at least $5 million a season.
“I think we had a different view in relation to where we felt Ryan was at, in relation to the industry given what transpired this past summer with free agency and the people that would be available this summer in relation to free agency,” Meehan said. “So I think we felt strongly in that position.”
Smyth led the Oilers in scoring this season with 31 goals and 22 assists in 53 games. But the Oilers are facing long odds to reach the playoffs. Heading into Tuesday’s game against Phoenix, they trailed the Calgary Flames by nine points for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
New York sat in ninth place in the East at the start of play Tuesday, one point behind Carolina and the playoff cutoff.
“Ryan Smyth is a premier NHL player,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “The New York Islanders are proud to have Ryan become a member of our organization.”
It was the only deal Tuesday for the Islanders, who kept leading scorer Jason Blake despite the possibility that he can be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Smyth didn’t have the look of a player that was about to be dealt during the pregame skate in the morning.
He skated hard through drills and joked with his teammates. While taking off his equipment, he carefully examined a white board outlining the schedule for Mark Messier’s number retirement ceremony later Tuesday.
It is arguably the biggest trade the Oilers have made since sending Messier to the New York Rangers in 1991. While they dealt players like Doug Weight and Jason Arnott after that, neither player was beloved like Smyth in Edmonton.
A native of nearby Banff, Smyth was drafted by the Oilers sixth overall in 1994 and had spent his entire career with the team.
“I think Ryan offers a lot to a franchise, I think he offers a great deal to any competitive team within the league,” Meehan. “Yes, there was a degree of compromise and I’ll convey to you that both sides compromised throughout this process but not to the degree where we both felt comfortable that we could come to a deal.”
Nilsson was the Islanders’ first-round pick in 2003. He’s recorded 12 goals and 33 assists in 50 games with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
O’Marra, who has won back-to-back gold medals for Canada at the world junior hockey championship, is currently playing for Saginaw of the OHL. He was New York’s first-round pick in 2005.