Slider: Why we need Smitty

If you’ve been paying attention to any kind of Oilers news aside from the draft pick hype perhaps you’ve come across another revival of the ‘Will Ryan Smyth come back to the Oil?’ discussion. There have been a few tweets, a few short articles and the odd mention here and there but no real meat to the news. At this moment as far as I can tell no party is actively talking to the other party, so for now these are just really persistent rumours. Like the first time I heard these rumours last year I have the same feeling. Not likely to happen but he would do us a world of good.

Mr Mullet, Smitty, Hard-nose Ryan, whatever you want to call him is a power left winger, an accomplished leader, a local (Banff) born who knows the city and knows his art. He’s one of the best front-of-net presence players I’ve ever seen. He has the dirty goal mentality that was missing from our Oilers last year, he’s the garbage collector that will net 20-30 goals per year from sheer determination and power. We have snipers, we have skaters, we even have a few bruisers but right now there isn’t anyone on our team that I could say is a good net-presence player. Hall and Ebs both can dangle and play games in the corners but we don’t want them taking cross checks and tipping slap shots from the point all game, that’s a waste of their talent and a large injury risk for young players. Omark, dispute his small size, may eventually be able to fill this role, but certainly not for a few more years, and he would do it with positioning and deft hands. Not the grit and power of Smyth.

With Smyth on a line with either Eberle or Hall it would give the speedy youngsters more freedom to use the cycle game with the high D, instead of a deep corner cycle. They could take more chancy shots knowing Ryan can turn low percent shots into goals just by collecting the garbage, or tipping a shot, or making it tough for the goalie to see it. I think last year it hurt our snipers last year without the kind of player Smyth is in front. For good portions of the year they seemed timid in taking low percentage shots because no one was around the net to make anything happen after. With Smitty on his game they can start using their high-risk high-reward shots with more confidence and that will pay out quickly.

He’s no slouch on defence either! Above average for a forward at defensive responsibility, which is something our newer kids still struggle with at times.

The cap hit wouldn’t be steep, the trade price to get him wont be tough. I know we’re investing in the future with kids in this rebuild, but a player like Captain Canada is all upside right now assuming a deal can be reached.