Ryan Smyth personifies a lot of what is right about our national game. Teamwork, sacrifice, hard work, grit, fearlessness, finding a way when there’s no easy answer.
If you gave me an endless budget and 5 years, I don’t think I could find a better mentor for this young team. Putting Ryan Smyth on the ice should mean an end to all kinds of silly things (Smid’s “fight” with Avery last season would be an example) that you see from teams without a personality.
Ryan Smyth and the Edmonton Oilers have been a perfect match since he was a kid. I think his return represents a major upswing in some important areas, not the least of them being a rugged team that’s no fun to play against anywhere and a tough road win for opponents. It’s been awhile, welcome back 94.
NHL Prediction for 11-12: 70, 18-19-37 (.529)
- I thought the numbers would be better. Well, I nicked him a little everwhere. A few less games, I’ve chopped his PP time and added some PK time and suspect there will be times when Smyth and Horcoff are playing a “tough minutes” matchup. Overall, I think his role will be much different in Edmonton than it was in LA.
- How much did you cut his PP time? A lot. Ryan Smyth played 242 minutes on the PP last season, going 9-5-14. Desjardins behind the net tells us he scored 3.37/60 at 5×4, about the same as Taylor Hall. I think the kid will get the majority of PP time. I have Smyth at about 1.5 minutes a game.
- So are the Oilers are going to go with a tough minutes line? Smyth played the toughs again last season and I suspect Renney will hard match (Renney CAN hard match) at times this season. Smyth had an excellent CorsiRel, was mid-pack 5×5/points per 60 and was -3.9% at Zone Start/Finish. I don’t think they will all season, but there will be times when things are tough and the team is at home.
- Who will he play with? On that tough minutes line my guess is Horcoff and Jones. Eberle may also play on that line but he’s likely to be on a scoring line. Paajarvi is possible.
- That’s not a hard match line. Horcoff can still play that style, and Smyth isn’t the player he used to be but that’s the role I see him playing on the Oilers from time to time. Smyth did some cherry picking a year ago with the LAK, that will need to stop. However, he knows how to play this role and the Oilers badly need him to be effective in it.
- Who will he play with when things are going well? I think Renney will start the season with the “three scoring lines” vision for the team. RNH, Gagner, Horcoff (or Belanger) might be the centermen; Hall, Smyth and Paajarvi might be the LWs; Hemsky, Eberle and Omark might be the RWs with Jones also in the mix.
- Who are his likely linemates? I’ll say RNH-Eberle and Horcoff-Hemsky are candidates for Smyth’s services entering training camp.
- Smyth can take the faceoffs for RNH. Cool. Well I don’t know that Smyth is a strong option for faceoff man. Last year he went 43.2 in just 132 sorties.
- So he’s in about the same situation as Horcoff? Right. Mentor role, not as much PP time but a healthy dose of PK.
- Smyth is a better offensive player than Hall or Paajarvi. Hmmm. I’ll give you Paajarvi but Hall’s future is on the top line and his future is now. Plus Smyth is more experienced than Paajarvi and there’s going to be plenty of minutes to go around for the top 9 forwards.
- Who do you have ahead of him on the PP? In terms of PP minutes, wingers ahead of Smyth are Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Linus Omark and Jordan Eberle.
- This isn’t going to be his team, is it? Not a chance. However, he can be a huge help as a mentor and a guy willing to do the dirty work when times are tough. I think he’ll embrace the role; Smyth has never turned away from a challenge and one doubts he’ll start now.
- Why fewer games? His age is a factor. Smyth has been healthy for quite a stretch, I’m just betting he’ll have a bump or two along the way. He’s an Oiler now.