Last night driving the Al Gore and tooling around town today listening to the radio, it appears as though the Oilers are bound and determined to send Ryan Smyth back to the damn airport disappointed. I was most interested to hear that Ryan Smyth is going to have to accept a “third line” role on next year’s Oilers. Music! Now, let’s go out and find six guys better than him, shall we? Help me, baby Jesus. It’s like the whole damn town gets caught up in the minutia of the rebuild and forgets there’s a workday straight ahead.
Ryan Smyth’s minutes will one day wind down and blow away like the dust on a window sill in spring. Baby, this isn’t the spring, and it won’t be next year either. Not with this team. Edmonton has employed several wingers this season, here are the men who have appeared in 40 or more games and their minutes per game:
- Ryan Smyth 19:14 (14:35EV; 2:36PP; 2:03PK)
- Taylor Hall 18:29 (15:19EV; 3:07PP; 0:02PK)
- Ales Hemsky 17:31 (15:15EV; 2:13PP; 0:02 PK)
- Jordan Eberle 17:19 (14:07EV; 3:09PP; 0:02 PK)
- Ryan Jones 15:03 (11:55EV; 0:44PP; 2:22 PK)
- Magnus Paajarvi 13:10 (11:56EV; 1:01PP; 0:12 PK)
- Lennart Petrell 9:25 (8:10; 0:01PP; 1:13PK)
- Ben Eager 8:40 (8:36EV; 0:03PP; 0:00PK)
- Darcy Hordichuk 4:05 (4:05 EV)?
Okay, so what I heard on the radio today was that Smyth was going to have to live with 3rd line minutes and some nights off next season if he wants to return. Edmonton hasn’t signed Smyth, but do have three outstanding wingers under contract for next year: Hall, Hemsky, Eberle.
Take a long look. Anyone on that list look like they’re ready to take on Smyth’s tough minutes at even strength? the PK minutes? Seriously, where on this list do you see Fernando Pisani or Mike Grier? Come on, let’s go here. We’re burning daylight.
Ryan Jones? No. Lennart Petrell? No. Magnus Paajarvi? No, not ready.
Remember, we’re talking about the winger facing the toughest opponents and tough zone starts while still delivering offensively. That’s a really valuable player. Smyth might look like Claire Alexander out there with his old timey helmet and battle scars, but lordy this guy has value. If you don’t believe me, wait 4 months and watch how quickly Calgary makes an offer.
NO STRINGS MORE THUNDER
Maybe you’re thinking “well hell, Smyth started well but he’s been junk since the All-Star break.” Okay, let’s do that:
- Eberle 20, 12-8-20 +3 18:41
- Hall 20, 10-9-19 +2 19:26
- Hemsky 20, 1-9-10 -7 17:58
- Smyth 20, 3-6-9 -3 17:35
- Paajarvi 8, 2-2-4 E 14:51
- Jones 17, 2-2-4 -3 14:14
- Eager 18, 2-2-4 E 9:21
- Petrell 20, 1-2-3 -4 9:21
- Hordichuk 9, 0-1-1 E 3:57
Okay, let’s try again. Surely we can see the “Smyth replacement now that we’ve taken that bad old data from Oct-Jan out of there. NOW we can see how bad Smyth has truly been!
Riiiiiight. Ryan Smyth isn’t the problem. Seriously. The PROBLEM is that the Edmonton Oilers (say it with me) don’t have enough NHL players. Ryan Smyth is one of the few. The Oilers don’t have Smyth under contract for next year, but joining the big three (Hall, Eberle, Hemsky) next season will be Ryan Jones, Magnus Paajarvi and Ben Eager. That’s 6 wingers. I don’t know how many can cheer for an Edmonton Oiler team that trades Ryan Smyth but holds on to mediocrity and worse like grim death. Seriously. When Ryan Smyth heads to the airport this time, I doubt he’s alone.