Saturday, April 07, 2007


Now Up, Batting 1.000, Cal Nichols!

"It's entirely possible the Oilers will bid for Smyth again when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
--John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal

I find it unlikely that Smyth will be interested, especially once his wife reads about Cal Nichols' thoughts on marriage, or Smyth himself reads Nichols' thoughts on his value:

"Honestly, what concerned me the most was the length of it," Nichols said. "Ryan is a 31-year-old guy that has got a history of injuries.

"I think he's averaged a month a year in his career out with injuries. I remember one year he had a half-a-year. It's the way he plays the game. He exposes himself to injury. So the number ($5.4 million per season) wasn't as troubling to me as the length of it."

He's too old? You mean, like Chris Pronger, Dwayne Roloson, Fernando Pisani, Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau old? He exposes himself to inury? Eleven years of service to one organization, and one country, and you trot out that garbage? The cross-checks to the back, the slashes to the hands, the high-sticks and pucks in the face--all done to help his team excel and turn you a profit--and this is how you repay him? I'm actually at a loss for words on this one, I find it so distasteful. This organization is clicking on all cylinders right now. Just an absolute farce. Wow. Wow. Wow. Sob. Sob. Sob. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. At least the Journal is printing this stuff. That has to count for something. Don't know what, but something.


My favourite part: Listing Ty Conklin leaving under the "disater strikes" subhead.

The worst part about negotiations like this is the player can't possibly win. If he tries to be loyal and takes a discount to stay with a team during his most productive years, and then wants to be paid later on, the ownership points out that he isn't worth that much money now, and it wouldn't be a smart business decision to pay for past performance. And if he does try to drive a really hard bargain during his prime playing years (when he has less leverage from free agency), planning on possibly taking less as his role decreases, he is vilified for being a greedy player--despite the fact that a hockey playing career can be incredibly short. Personally I have no problems with an athlete trying to get as much as he can before his body gives out completely. After all, the owner may have the team and a chance to profit from it for forty years--a good long career is ten or fifteen years, if he's lucky. I'll bet the average hockey playing career is much shorter.

I wonder how much the earlier age of free agency will change this--maybe more young players will get paid commensurate with their production, and settle for lesser contracts to keep playing as their production drops with age. It might make it more difficult on owners since they won't have as many underpriced players (if they are smart in their contract negotiations), but I think it will be a more fair situation for the athletes.

baroque: "The worst part about negotiations like this is the player can't possibly win. If he tries to be loyal and takes a discount to stay with a team during his most productive years, and then wants to be paid later on, the ownership points out that he isn't worth that much money now, and it wouldn't be a smart business decision to pay for past performance."

I don't think Ryan Smyth has been underpaid during his career, except maybe his first full season where he had 39 goals.

After his break-out year in 96/97 where he tallied 39G and 61pts he had 2 sub-par seasons (97-99). Playing in 136 of a possible 164 games he totalled 33G and 31A for 64PTS. He earned about 1.2M over those 2 seasons.

In 99/00 he earned 675K. He had a good year with 54pts (28G) in 82GP.

In 00/01 he earned 1.8M. He had a career high 70pts (31G) in 82GP.

In 01/02 he earned 2.525M. He had a somewhat disappointing season, missing 21 games and tallying only 15 goals and 50pts.

In 02/03 he earned 3.025M. He missed another 16 games, but was close to a ppg pace with 61pts (27G) in 66GP.

In 03/04 he earned 3.45M. He had 23G, 59pts in 82GP. I think he lead the team in points.

In 05/06 he earned 3.5M. Was his salary rolled back? If so, what would he have earned pre-rollback? He had a good year with 36G, 66pts in 75GP.

This season he was earning 3.5M. In 53GP for the Oilers he had 31G, 53pts. He missed 10(?) games with a broken thumb.

[Stats from, salary info from]

I can see why Lowe or Nicols would be concerned with injury problems. Smyth's not getting any younger. He's 31 right now, and he'd be 32 4 months into his 5-year 5.4M (?) deal. I think that's a fair contract, and it has the risk of being an overpayment in the last 2 years, unless Smytty ages like Sakic. He does play a gritty game and usually misses time due to injury.

I just think he didn't want to play here. Maybe he wants the easier travel schedule of the Eastern Conference. Can't say I blame him. He has 2 kids, and his oldest daughter is nearing school age. The trip from Edmonton to Colorado or Minny is like twice as long as the longest trip in the Atlantic (Pittsburgh is the furthest from the other 4).

And he's been struggling in LI. He's close to a ppg pace (5G, 9A, 14pts in 16GP). But 3 of his goals and 6 of his assists have come against sub-500 teams. Obviously he's gonna struggle with a new team, but his goal production has dropped substantially. He was the undisputed go-to-guy with the Oil, and averaged a goal every 1.7 games. With the Isles he averages a goal every 3.2 games. I'm not sure what kind of ice-time he's getting with the Isles, but the goaltending is weaker in the East, IMO.

I'd still be surprised if he gets more than 6M, considering Datsyuk just signed for 6.7M over 7 years. Isn't that roughly 1M more than Smytty's asking price? This is a guy with the potential to break 90 points and he's 2 years younger than Smytty. I think its a bit long, and it could end up looking bad soon if Datsyuk continues to underperform in the playoffs.

Sorry for the rant. I don't think Smyth is greedy, he can get 5.4 or more in free agency. I just question whether he really wanted to retire an Oiler. He had the chance and passed it up. It will be interesting to see where he signs in the off-season. I don't think he'll re-sign with the Isles. Maybe the Rangers?

I'm hoping the Isles make it over the Leafs. I don't think either has a real chance against Buffalo, but ya never know.


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