Cross Checks: Ryan Smyth

Morning Links: Day 17 of the lockout

October, 2, 2012
  • Still recovering from offseason shoulder and wrist surgeries, Ryan Kesler must report to Rogers Arena every weekday morning and will still be paid his full salary until cleared for action. (The Vancouver Sun)
  • The NHL should begin cancelling regular season games this week with the schedule slated to open on Oct. 11. (USA Today)
  • Evander Kane has found a number or ways to combat boredom during the lockout – like going to football games and playing in a recreation hockey league – but it is the financial advisor he hired that will really help him deal with the work stoppage. (New York Times)
  • Manny Malhotra said the league’s initial offer to cut the players’ revenue from 57 percent to 43 percent still angers the players and, “it did some good for us in terms of solidarity and where we stood – that’s for sure.” (The Province)
  • Sabres coach Lindy Ruff would rather see his players in Europe than at informal skates in Buffalo. “My feeling is if you can play, play, whether you’re half a world away or not,” Ruff said. “Playing’s a good thing. You can keep your skills sharp.” (Buffalo News)
  • Flyers’ Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen were among a group of players skating in Voorhees, N.J., across from the Phantoms’ practice. (Courier Post)
  • Ryan Smyth and Taylor Hall have been skating with the Edmonton Oil Kings since most of the group they were skating with left town. (Edmonton Sun)
  • Cody Franson signed in Sweden this season, but his agent his optimistic a deal could get done with the Maple Leafs once the lockout is over. (Toronto Sun)
  • Red wings head coach Mike Babcock and assistant GM Jim Nill watched most of Detroit’s AHL affiliate the Griffins’ first practice on Monday from the stands. (
  • Bob Hartley didn’t hesitate in fighting to give Steve McCarthy a professional tryout with the Abbotsford Heat after watching the defenseman in the Swiss league last season. (Calgary Herald)
  • Season-ticket sales for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies are up 74 percent from last year and the team expects a 15 percent increase in attendance. (Toronto Star)
I present four regular-season point totals: 69 points, 67 points, 59 points and 57 points.

Now four names, in no particular order: Rick Nash, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan and P.A. Parenteau.

What might surprise the casual fan is which player generated which point total: Parise with 69 points this season, Parenteau with 67 points, Nash with 59 points and Ryan with 57 points.

OK, I get it. Point totals are only a partial measure of a player’s ability. No question. And it’s clear Parise and Nash stand above in overall talent, with Ryan just a level below.

But Parenteau is an underrated player, one that has flown under the radar because he plied his trade on Long Island. You might argue he boosted his point total only because he played with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. But you could also argue Parenteau’s playmaking abilities helped Tavares and Moulson find the back of the net.

Finally, I get to my point. While you can see the reasoning in what the Columbus Blue Jackets are doing with Nash -- waiting until Parise signs, so that all those teams that struck out on him come scrambling to the Jackets with a re-energized offer for Nash -- it’s not that simple.

It might happen with some teams, but not all.

As pointed out last weekend, Bobby Ryan is another option and one that carries a better contract. Anaheim should get plenty of traction on him once Parise signs.

But even with Ryan, you have to give up good assets to get him.

There sits Parenteau on Sunday as an unrestricted free agent, available without having to give up any assets. Judging from the conversations I’ve had with a few teams over the past week, I think he’s a player that’s going to generate more interest than most people believe.

Price next?

With Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider and Tuukka Rask owners of new contracts, it stands to measure Carey Price should be the next goalie to get his turn.

That should indeed be the case, as Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has put considerable time in to negotiations with Price’s camp over the past month, and we should see a new deal for the Habs No. 1 in the near future.

Price, a restricted free agent as of Sunday, is coming off a two-year deal in which he earned an average of $2.75 million a year. He should at least double that in his new deal. I don’t think you’ll see a 10-year deal like Quick did in L.A., but somewhere from five-to-seven years is a possibility.

Rask and his agent Bill Zito, by the way, made a smart move in signing for only one year. Rask gets a chance to pump his value up by having a big year as a No. 1 goalie, which will put him in a better position to sign a better contract. Similarly, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli played this well. He’s got to know for sure whether Rask is No. 1 material before signing him to a long-term deal. Now he’ll find out.

More rumblings

  • Pending UFA winger Ryan Smyth remains without a new contract as Sunday approaches. A source told that the Edmonton Oilers were slated to talk again with Smyth’s camp Friday.
  • Two pending UFAs whose rights could still be dealt before Sunday: Alexander Semin and Jason Garrison.
  • As of this past Tuesday, teams were allowed to approach pending RFAs and talk to them about offer sheets. You always wonder whether a team would dare with Shea Weber. But a source close to Weber told Thursday night that nothing of that nature was going on at this point. The Predators, besides, would almost surely match any offer sheet.
Some quick notes on a quiet Sunday before the deadline on which Ben Bishop was traded to Ottawa:
  • A day after yet another loss, which ignited calls for the firing of head coach Ron Wilson, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke says a change behind the bench was not in the cards.

    "I’m not contemplating a coaching change," Burke told

    The Leafs are winless in four games (0-3-1) and have won only once in nine games (1-7-1), outscored 35-17 during stretch, to slide out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Burke went on TSN radio in Toronto on Wednesday and suggested the Leafs would look at what’s out there on the goalie trade market, given the struggles of Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer.

    But Burke, as of 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, said nothing was imminent on the trade front.

    While Burke refused to discuss specific names, sources confirm the Leafs have talked to Columbus about Rick Nash but my sense is that they were not close on that front.

    On the goalie front, it’s believed Toronto has interest in Evgeni Nabokov, but Isles GM Garth Snow told’s Katie Strang on Sunday that he was not looking to move the UFA-to-be netminder. The Isles and Nabokov’s agent, Don Meehan, have discussed a contract extension over the past week.

    As I reported earlier this past week, the Edmonton Oilers and Leafs have also chatted about Nikolai Khabibulin but my sense is that Toronto isn’t keen on that extra year on the goalie’s contract.
  • The Boston Bruins are still hoping to add both a forward and a defenseman. A source told on Sunday that B’s have interest in Daniel Winnik, T.J. Galiardi and David Jones -- all three Colorado Avalanche forwards are very much in play. Winnik and Jones are UFAs July 1 while Galiardi is an RFA July 1. The Bruins have interest in possibly dealing for one of them.
  • The Winnipeg Jets are in the thick of the playoff race, so they have to be careful with what they’re going to do. I was told Sunday by a source that Johnny Oduya was getting the most traction. No surprise there, he’s a UFA July 1 and would be a good rental pickup for a contender.
  • Still no contract extension for Ryan Smyth (UFA July 1) in Edmonton. Talks began Thursday. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Teams like Detroit, Boston and the Rangers have shown interest in adding Smyth but the veteran winger and the Oilers agreed two weeks ago that he would stay put. In return, though, you can’t blame Smyth for likely wanting to get an extension done to give him some security. Look for it to be a two-year deal if it gets done.
  • The Minnesota Wild were taking calls this weekend, of course, on goalie Josh Harding, a UFA on July 1. If Ben Bishop netted a second-round pick, Harding should garner a better asset given his NHL experience.
  • There was twitter buzz Sunday that Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec was willing to waive his no-trade clause. False, as it turns out.

    "I’ve never had a conversation or discussion with [GM] Pierre Gauthier and Montreal regarding a need to address his no-trade clause," Plekanec’s veteran agent, Rick Curran, told on Sunday. "He’s never broached the topic. I had dinner with Tomas last night, as well as Tomas Kaberle, and never once did we ever discuss a trade or anything like that. It’s not an issue whatsoever."

    Plekanec is in the second season of a $30 million, six-year contract.
  • With teams looking to add goaltending depth, Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov has generated some interest as Monday's deadline looms, but he does not appear to be on the block.

    "I'm not looking to move him," GM Garth Snow told's Katie Strang via text message Sunday.

  • It’s been a tough few days for the playoff-hopeful Calgary Flames, as they were pounded 6-1 by Edmonton and then lost to Phoenix and Philadelphia in the shootout after leading in both those games.

    Still, as of Sunday, the Flames were just one point out of eighth place and GM Jay Feaster was holding to his playoffs-or-bust mentality.

    Feaster said Sunday that he has no intention of moving top center Olli Jokinen, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

    "I’ve already met with Olli and told him I am not moving him. I told him I’m not shopping him, and when I do receive calls I tell them he is NOT in play," Feaster said in an email message Sunday.

    “We also discussed focusing on getting into the playoffs and then discussing a new deal postseason. He is totally on-side with all of that,” Feaster said.

    Jokinen leads the Flames with 50 points.

    As for trying to move other assets, Feaster isn’t planning to make any alterations to his roster. In fact, he is hoping to get injured players David Moss, Blair Jones and Chris Butler back in the next two to three weeks.

    “We feel our destiny remains in our own hands,” Feaster said.
    --Scott Burnside
More nuggets from Friday afternoon as we march toward the trade deadline:
  • Ryan Smyth and the Edmonton Oilers decided a few weeks ago that he would stay put. The pending unrestricted free agent now needs a new deal. A source told that Smyth and the Oilers have begun talks on an extension.
  • The buzz over Dustin Brown's availability softened somewhat by midafternoon. As my colleague Elliotte Friedman of CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada first tweeted Friday afternoon, a source told that the Kings now seem a little more reluctant to part with their captain. That’s not to say the door is slammed shut, but it is interesting to see how things shifted from Thursday night to Friday afternoon.

    The Kings did talk to a few teams about Brown, including Toronto, but seem willing to hang on to him unless they get their socks blown off.

    This is just me guessing, but I wonder whether the optics of trading their captain and the media stir it created overnight made the Kings nervous. Either way, I can tell you that more than a few general managers absolutely believed that Brown was in play as of Thursday night.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins are poking around for an upgrade to backup goalie Brent Johnson. Among the names on their list is Minnesota Wild backup Josh Harding, who is slated for unrestricted free agency July 1.
  • Will the Oilers trade or sign Ales Hemsky? The Oilers have talked contract with Hemsky, who is slated to be a UFA on July 1. The clock is ticking. Either he accepts Edmonton’s offer and signs an extension, or he’ll be dealt by Monday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.
  • The Winnipeg Jets put forward Antti Miettinen on waivers Friday, something they had to do if they wanted to be able to trade him before Monday, because he started the season overseas. Miettinen has another year left on his deal at $1.5 million. This doesn’t mean the Jets will move him for sure, but it gives them the option. The Jets, meanwhile, are in an interesting position. They’re suddenly first in the Southeast Division and certainly cannot be sellers with the playoffs such a realistic possibility. A Western Conference source I spoke with Friday suggested the Jets are looking to make "hockey deals." In other words, they’re not buyers or sellers but simply trying to improve their team for this year and beyond.
The latest news as we count down to the trade deadline:

Rick Nash

Teams that I believe have either been contacted by Columbus regarding Rick Nash or have reached out to the Blue Jackets: the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Of that list, I think the Rangers, Flyers and Kings really stand out in terms of their interest and ability to provide the right assets. The Canucks and Leafs obviously have interest, but I’m not sure they’re willing to part with the kind of package of assets the Jackets are looking for.

The Leafs have worked hard over the last few years to build up their base of assets and don’t want to empty the cupboard on one player, even though it’s a player they like. My sense is that Toronto will remain involved on some level just to make sure the price doesn’t go down.

Wild-card teams: San Jose and St. Louis. I’m not sure the Sharks can pull this off midseason; I think they’d be more interested in the offseason. The Blues have ownership issues, which I think really limits their ability here, yet one source suggested to us that we should not discount them. Still, trade Nash within your division? That would surprise me.

Jackets GM Scott Howson has told some teams, a source told, that while he is listening to offers on Nash, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll move the superstar winger by the Feb. 27 trade deadline. There’s still a chance this gets moved to an offseason transaction. Still, given that the cat is now out of the bag, you know Howson will work his hardest to make it happen in the next two weeks.

Ryan Smyth

You can take Ryan Smyth's name off the trade market list. The veteran winger (UFA on July 1) solicited interest, we’re told, from the likes of Detroit, Boston and the New York Rangers, but Oilers GM Steve Tambellini had a meeting with Smyth on Tuesday where both sides agreed he’d stay put in Edmonton. And that was just fine with Smyth. Sure, Smyth was flattered to hear some Cup contenders wanted his services, but given what he went through to force a trade from L.A. to Edmonton last June, he’s more than happy just to stay put.

Tuomo Ruutu

You can also officially scratch Tuomo Ruutu's name off the trade market. That was pretty much the case last week when Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford announced he would try to re-sign the pending UFA forward, but now with Ruutu out three to four weeks with an upper body injury, it makes it a moot point. A Canes source confirmed to Tuesday night that Ruutu would not be going anywhere. Talks on a contract extension continue.

Ryan Smyth's phone hasn't stopped ringing with texts and messages since his trade back to the Edmonton Oilers was finally done Sunday.

"It's blowing up, but it's all good," Smyth told on Monday. "This is an exciting time."

Six weeks after he asked for a trade from the Los Angeles Kings back to his native Alberta, it wasn't without a few heart-stopping moments and speed bumps Friday and Saturday before the deal got done.

"Overall it was really stressful, no question," said Captain Canada. "Sometimes you learn a lot through these types of processes. Sometimes it hurts. But the end result is that we're real happy as a family. ... I have to say, L.A. was first class in the way they treated this. They were patient and they were willing to have a dance partner at the end of the day."

On Friday morning, sources told Smyth was likely headed to Edmonton's Alberta rival in Calgary. The Flames and Kings had a deal pretty much worked out pending a few other factors. Smyth was also informed of that, and knew how upset Oilers fans would have been to see him wear those colors.

"It was overwhelming in regards to what Calgary was willing to do in terms of trying to acquire my services," said Smyth. "I really appreciate that. Obviously, it would have been really tough for me to play against the Oilers in the Battle of Alberta. I think if you cut me open, I bleed Oiler blue."

He always did, despite the four and half years spent away from Edmonton.

"Sometimes you have to experience the other side of things to see how much you appreciate a team, an organization, a city, and the fans," Smyth said. "I'm really looking forward to the first game, for sure."

Is Ryan Smyth headed back home?

A deal that appeared to send Smyth from the Los Angeles Kings to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night never was officially announced.

Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said after the first round of the NHL draft that the deal was still not done. A Kings source also told it wasn't quite done.

Reached via text message, Smyth told late Friday night that he didn't understand what was holding up the deal.

There seems to be confusion over the exact parameters of the conditional draft pick the Oilers would be sending to the Kings. Gilbert Brule also would be going from Edmonton to Los Angeles.

Earlier in the day, sources told that Edmonton's provincial rival, the Calgary Flames, were close to acquiring Smyth. But the Oilers got back into talks with the Kings as the first round of the draft neared.

Smyth, who asked the Kings to trade him closer to his Alberta home, began his career in Edmonton and made a tearful exit via a trade in February 2007.

Smyth has one year left on his deal that pays him $4.5 million but carries a $6.25 million cap hit.

The Calgary Flames had the lead Friday afternoon in the pursuit of Ryan Smyth, a source told

That’s far from saying it’s a done deal, however.

The Edmonton Oilers also had talks with the Los Angeles Kings to bring back their former star winger; but, as of Friday afternoon, the rival Flames were looking more like his future home.

Smyth, who asked for a trade, has a no-movement clause and must OK any deal.

More rumblings

• We caught up with Penguins GM Ray Shero on two fronts.

First, Max Talbot is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and it appears he's bound for the market.

"I think he's probably headed to July 1, that's probably the way it's going to go," Shero told on Friday. "We made a three-year offer. I wish the best for him; he was drafted by the Penguins. We'll see what happens. We have our limitations to what we can do."

And, of course, we had to ask Shero about No. 68, Jaromir Jagr.

"I talked to [Jagr's agent] Petr Svoboda a couple of times," said Shero. "I talked to Jagr a few days ago; Mario also talked to him. I touched base again yesterday with Petr. That's really where it is. We haven't made an offer at this point, so we'll see where it goes. It's an intriguing player for sure. He's 39, but I saw him at the World Championships and he's still a good player."

• Kevin Epp, the agent for pending RFA blueliner Josh Gorges, said Friday he had not spoken to Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier in weeks, but hoped to meet with him sometime this weekend at the draft in Minnesota.

• Bill Zito, the agent for UFA-to-be Ville Leino, told Friday he would probably run into Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in Minneapolis. Now that Holmgren has moved major cap space with the Jeff Carter/Mike Richards trades, he not only gave himself room to sign Ilya Bryzgalov on Thursday, but he also has room to get Leino under contract if both sides can find the right number and term.

If there is one common theme in the chats we've had with Kings GM Dean Lombardi over the past season, it's his deep urge to pick up another top-flight, bona fide center. He had one in Anze Kopitar but felt his team would not contend for the Stanley Cup until he got another one.

He had a Richards name on his mind for the past year as he thought about filling that hole, first name Brad. He was intending to make a big-time splash July 1 for the unrestricted free-agent center.

Then came a piece of startling news about four weeks ago. The Flyers were quietly making Mike Richards available. Lombardi, who worked for the Flyers before going to L.A., dropped everything and put his efforts toward getting Richards, first name Mike.

"Mike Richards pretty much stands for everything we believe in," Lombardi told on Thursday night. "So I knew I had to be aggressive. You don't get many cracks at guys like this."

Now, Lombardi feels a lot better about throwing out a one-two punch of Kopitar-Richards at center when you consider what the Kings need to match up with in the Western Conference: Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk, Vancouver with Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler, Chicago with Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp, San Jose with Joe Thornton-Logan Couture.

"This sets us up so much better," Lombardi said.

Giving up top prospect Brayden Schenn as part of the package was a tough pill to swallow. Lombardi said no all season to any team that tried to trade for Schenn, including rejecting Edmonton's bid for Schenn in March in exchange for Ales Hemsky.

"There was no player of Mike Richards' caliber available to us at the trade deadline," Lombardi said.

With his top priority resolved, Lombardi still has some house cleaning. Namely, Ryan Smyth.

The Kings' GM confirmed Thursday night on a separate media call that Smyth, via agent Don Meehan, asked for a trade almost two months ago. When TSN's Bob McKenzie broke the story earlier this week, Lombardi intensified efforts to get a deal done.

"I'm not in a great position here," Lombardi said on the media call. "I hope to have this wrapped up in a day or two."

Lombardi said he was dealing with two teams and wouldn't mention which ones, but sources confirmed Alberta rivals Calgary and Edmonton are bidding on Smyth.

Another NHL source said the Oilers at first tried to dump Sheldon Souray on the Kings a few weeks ago. Lombardi said no thanks, and talks stalled between Edmonton and Los Angeles. The news Thursday that the Flames entered the picture seemed to reignite the Oilers, who likely could not stomach seeing the former Oilers star play in Flames colors. Both the Oilers and Flames held further trade talks with the Kings on Thursday, sources confirmed.

As of Thursday night, one source said the Flames and Oilers were neck and neck for Smyth's services. Calgary was trying to move salary, namely Robyn Regehr, to make complete a deal for Smyth.

Leafs went after Mike Richards

The Toronto Maple Leafs' desperate search for a No. 1 center is well-documented, and you can take it to the bank that once Mike Richards was put on the block by the Flyers, Toronto phoned.

A source told that the Flyers wanted Nikolai Kulemin and Nazem Kadri as part of any package for Richards. Another source said the Flyers also wanted a first-round pick from the Leafs.

Whatever the case, talks fizzled and the Flyers focused on the deal with L.A.

There are some who believe the Flyers didn't want Richards traded within the conference, anyway.

The Flyers also asked Toronto whether it had interest in Jeff Carter, but the Leafs passed in the end.

More Richards fallout

How did Mike Richards find out he was traded?

"My agent called me and said that there was about a 90 percent chance today that I'd be traded," Richards said on a media call. "Then I still wasn't sure and caught it on the Internet that I was. Five minutes later, I got a call that confirmed it."

We asked Richards how he would have responded a few years ago when he signed his long-term deal if told he'd be dealt a few seasons into that monster deal.

"I probably wouldn't have signed the deal, actually, if I knew I'd be traded," Richards said. "I was fortunate enough to go to L.A. where I've heard nothing but good things not only about the organization but the city and how nice it is and how great the organization treats you. [But] when I signed that extension, I wanted to stay in Philadelphia for the rest of my career. That's what I envisioned until about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. this afternoon when I got the call."

Regardless of how the coming season plays out for the Philadelphia Flyers, they will look back to this day in June 2011 as a moment of seminal change for the franchise.

After battling the perception that his team was party central for the past couple of seasons, Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren made a series of bold moves Thursday, trading top-scoring forwards captain Mike Richards and sniper Jeff Carter for an impressive collection of draft picks and prospects.

Holmgren also used the cap space he cleared in those deals to bring former Vezina Trophy nominee Ilya Bryzgalov under contract, signing the former Phoenix netminder to a nine-year deal worth $51 million. Holmgren had acquired the rights to Bryzgalov a couple of weeks ago in the hopes of filling what has been a perpetual void in goal for the franchise.

The moves cement Holmgren's reputation as one of the most daring of the NHL's 30 GMs.

[+] EnlargeJeff Carter
Paul Bereswill/Getty ImagesThe Flyers traded Jeff Carter, left, and Mike Richards before their no-movement clauses became active in July 2012.

If the Flyers can find enough offense despite the loss of Carter, a three-time 30-goal scorer (he scored 46 in 2008-09), and Richards, one of the top two-way centers in the game, the deals should continue to pay dividends for years to come.

If the Flyers struggle and Bryzgalov cannot provide the upgrade (he has had a spotty playoff record), Holmgren will then face some tough criticism for tinkering with the foundation of a team that two seasons ago went to the Stanley Cup finals. That's what happens when you make these kinds of home-run deals; there are no half measures on trades of this nature and no half-measures when it comes to credit or blame.

Of the two trades, the Richards deal is more curious and speaks to an ongoing issue of equilibrium in the Flyers' locker room.

Richards, who has nine years remaining on a 12-year contract that carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million, was a member of Canada's gold-medal effort at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But the Flyers captain also warred frequently with the local media in Philadelphia, and there were issues with his leadership abilities, even when the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010. This season, they were swept by Boston in the second round, although much of that can be attributed to substandard goaltending.

Still, it's obvious Holmgren believed his team would be further ahead without Carter and Richards, both first-round picks in 2003. And he won't be the only GM on the hot seat as a result of Thursday's mega wheeling and dealing.

Desperate to find a front-line center to help arrest the slow decay of his franchise, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson likewise swung for the fences Thursday in acquiring Carter. The move did not come cheaply; the Blue Jackets sent promising forward Jakub Voracek, plus the eighth overall pick and a third-round pick in Friday's NHL draft to Philly. It is a steep price to pay for Carter, a natural goal-scorer who has struggled with injuries and has not shown the same kind of scoring touch in the playoffs.

Still, when you're a team like Columbus that has never won a playoff game and has qualified for the postseason just once in franchise history, it was imperative Howson make a move to try to get the Blue Jackets back in playoff mode.

The Columbus Dispatch, citing an NHL source, reported in May that the team was going to lose about $25 million in the 2010-11 season. The fan base has also grown restless with the many missteps under Howson and his predecessor, Doug MacLean.

It will be interesting to see what kind of mindset Carter has when he arrives in Columbus. He signed an 11-year contract extension last season, a contract that included a no-trade clause that didn't kick in until July 2012. Carter clearly expected to be part of the Flyers' long-term plans, but it didn't work out that way.

In theory, the Flyers could afford to part with two top centers because they have a wealth of talent up front, including Danny Briere, who has emerged as a top leader and gritty playoff performer, and Claude Giroux, who appears to be on the cusp of greatness. Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk are also capable contributors. The trades may also allow Holmgren to re-sign potential free agent Ville Leino, who has been a valuable piece of the Flyers' offense since being acquired from Detroit during the 2009-10 season.

In Voracek, they get another former first-round pick (seventh overall in the 2007 draft). He didn't quite pan out in Columbus, but that may be a function of a talent-thin Blue Jackets lineup. He'll certainly get a chance to play with quality players in Philadelphia and showcase his skills.

Like Howson, Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi did not take on a top center without having to dig deep, giving up uber-prospect Brayden Schenn as part of the Richards deal. The blue-chip forward prospect was believed to be an untouchable, but Lombardi made the deal with the chance to add a player of Richards' skill, sending forward Wayne Simmonds and a 2012 second-round pick to Philadelphia, as well.

The Kings, who also received minor-league forward Rob Bordson, have made the playoffs for two straight seasons, but have failed to advance past the first round (this past spring, they were defeated by San Jose, but were without the services of top forward Anze Kopitar).

The addition of Richards to a forward group that already includes Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, along with a solid defensive lineup and decent goaltending, should enhance the Kings' chances of competing with the big boys of the Western Conference. The Richards acquisition has also paved the way for Lombardi to grant veteran Ryan Smyth his wish to be traded. The Kings GM said Thursday he is close on a deal and there are two front-running teams (it's safe to bet one of those teams is Edmonton).

In the end, the fortunes of the Blue Jackets, Kings and Flyers have been indelibly altered, with the epicenter of change being the City of Brotherly Love. Now all that needs to be determined is whether that change is for the better.

Ryan Smyth wearing a Calgary Flames uniform?

Two sources told on Thursday the Flames have entered the picture in the Smyth trade talks, joining the provincial rival Edmonton Oilers as potential destinations for the veteran winger.

Smyth, 35, has one year left on his deal, which pays him $4.5 million, although the cap hit is $6.25 million. He also has a no-movement clause, which helps him control his trade destination.

Perhaps getting impatient with the Oilers, one source said it's the Kings that approached the Flames, and Calgary indicated it might have interest depending on other factors.

But for the cap-challenged Flames to even get serious on this front, they'd need to move money first. We're told one player being shopped is veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr, who has been asked by Calgary to consider a trade to Buffalo. The 31-year-old has two more years left on his deal at a $4 million cap hit. More importantly, he has a no-movement clause, which means he isn't going anywhere unless he approves the destination.

Richards to hit market

Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was informed by veteran agent Pat Morris that star center and pending unrestricted free agent Brad Richards would not waive his no-movement clause and was going to hit the market July 1.

It was hardly a shock, but it was still very disappointing for Nieuwendyk to finally hear it when he met with Morris on Thursday.

"That's their right, but it's frustrating from our end. But what can you do, right?," Nieuwendyk told, the disappointment in his voice clear as day. "We'll just turn the page, but it's real disappointing."

From the player's perspective, it's hard to blame Richards. He could have as many as 10 teams make offers. Why settle for one team now? On the flip side, Nieuwendyk made the gutsy decision not to trade him in March and now he's going to see that asset walk away without compensation.

It's a tough business.

Latest on Markov

The Twitter world brought us Russian reports Thursday saying Andrei Markov had re-signed with the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's not done. We're still working on it," Markov's veteran agent, Don Meehan, told on Thursday afternoon.

Meehan added that he was slated to meet with Habs GM Pierre Gauthier either late Thursday or Friday. Sounds as if this is a deal that should get done.

Speaking of Meehan, he's a busy man. The head of Newport Sports said he also had meetings planned Friday with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman regarding Steven Stamkos and another meeting with Kings GM Dean Lombardi regarding Drew Doughty. Both young stars are restricted free agents July 1.

Oilers GM mum on Ryan Smyth rumors

June, 21, 2011

Will Ryan Smyth return to the Edmonton Oilers?

As first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Los Angeles Kings veteran forward has apparently expressed interest in being traded back to Edmonton if a deal could be worked out. Smyth denied the report to The Edmonton Journal.

And while a Kings source confirmed to's Pierre LeBrun that Smyth is in play, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini didn't divulge too much during a media availability Tuesday at Rexall Place.

When asked about the reports, Tambellini said, "I'm aware of that. [Ryan is] a good person and that's his business; that's [Los Angeles Kings GM] Dean Lombardi's business, and I respect that."

After spending the first 11 seasons of his NHL career in Edmonton, the Oilers traded Smyth to the New York Islanders on trade deadline day in 2007. He signed with the Colorado Avalanche the following season before the Kings acquired Smyth before the 2009-10 season. Smyth, who has one year left on his current deal ($4.5 million salary and $6.25 million cap hit), ultimately controls his fate with the no-movement clause in his contract.

Stay tuned.

Zdeno Chara's controversial hit on Max Pacioretty this week was reminiscent for Ryan Smyth.

The veteran Los Angeles Kings winger was nailed into the turnbuckle by Jack Johnson (today they're teammates) in March 2008.

"I think it was really similar," Smyth told Thursday.

[+] EnlargeRyan Smyth
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesRyan Smyth, right, and Jack Johnson became teammates on the Kings in 2009.
Smyth, then with Colorado, missed two weeks with a separated shoulder and a concussion. Johnson escaped NHL discipline, just like Chara did this week. Montreal fans were ultra upset with the league's decision, but Smyth has no issue with it.

"When I looked at it, I think it's just a clean check and an unfortunate situation where the stanchion is there and he hits it," Smyth said. "The same with me. Half a second earlier, there's no call. Half a second later, there's no call. In my opinion. If I was half a second later, I would have just rubbed out against the glass. Half a second earlier, I could have grabbed on a little bit. I could have leaned over and hit my whole body onto it and braced myself a bit more."

Smyth said he feels terrible for Pacioretty, knowing just how it feels to get pounded into the turnbuckle, but the Kings veteran can't find fault with Chara.

"I don't think Zdeno Chara has a mean bone in his body," said Smyth. "And if he did, he could probably kill some guys out there. Litterally, he's a giant. But it is unfortunate, I do feel for Max Pacioretty. It's awful. I feel for him and his career."

Smyth wonders if the league can't improve the area where the stanchions sit near the players' benches.

"I think they should round the plexiglass, curve it so there is no corner, no point," suggested Smyth. "I was looking at it again today in Columbus between the benches. They could go back a foot back and round it. I don't know, that's just my idea."

Part of the discussion next week at the GMs meeting is expected to touch on rink safety around the NHL.

Heart gets Ryan Smyth to 1,000th game

November, 5, 2010

It was 1988 in Banff, Alberta, and Glen Sather set his eyes on a 12-year-old hockey player named Ryan Smyth.

"You could see this kid was going to be a very good player right then and there," Sather told this week.

Sather, the GM in Edmonton at the time, drafted Smyth in the first round of the 1994 NHL entry draft, sixth overall. It's a pick he's proud of.

"Ryan is full of heart and determination," the current New York Rangers GM said. "He's had a great career. And he's a great guy."

Smyth I believe I try and go out and earn everything I've got. Sometimes you have to pay a price and get your nose dirty to get rewarded... Your body gets sore at times, but there's a will within me to not be denied.

-- Ryan Smyth

And he's playing his 1,000 NHL regular-season game Saturday night. The rink rat from Banff has come a long way.

"It's pretty sweet," Smyth said this week. "It's an honor to play one game in the National Hockey League, let alone 1,000. Everybody dreams about playing in the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup, and another dream of mine was playing 1,000 games."

Full disclaimer: I gave Smyth his "Captain Canada" nickname at the 2002 world hockey championships in Sweden, a moniker that honored a player who played in seven straight IIHF world championships for Canada from 1999 to 2005, the last six of which I covered for The Canadian Press. In the process, I developed a terrific relationship with Smyth.

Now 34, Smyth hasn't changed. He's still a rink rat, the last one off the ice in practice and warm-ups. The Los Angeles Kings winger just can't get enough of it.

"Working hard in practice, the attention to detail over time I think has paid off in getting to 1,000 games," Smyth said. "I still feel good. I'm excited to play the game."

Playing 1,000 NHL games isn't that unique on its own, but when you play the game the way Smyth does, it takes on a different meaning. He's made a living in the crease for 15 NHL seasons, with every bit of his body black and blue at some point.

"I believe I try and go out and earn everything I've got," Smyth said. "Sometimes you have to pay a price and get your nose dirty to get rewarded. I think if I look back, probably 94 percent of my goals are in the goal crease. The puck is going to go there, so you pay the price. Your body gets sore at times, but there's a will within me to not be denied. That's really helped me over the course of my career."

"I think he's the best guy in the front of the net in the league," Sather said.

Smyth scored 91 goals in his final 122 games in junior hockey with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, but he realized near the end of that junior career that he had to change his game to make it in the NHL.

"In junior, I don't want to say I was more of a perimeter player but I got more of my chances on the outside," Smyth said. "I learned my last year of junior that you've got to get closer to the net and get grittier to get better."

He's made his living in front of the goalie ever since.

Now as he enters the final chapter of his hockey career, he's missing one glaring accomplishment: the Stanley Cup. He's got an Olympic gold medal (2002) and a pair of men's world hockey gold medals ('03 and '04), but the big shiny trophy in the NHL has eluded him.

He's got one of the best shots of his career now with a rising Kings team that has high expectations.

"As a player, you always want an opportunity. We're sure giving ourselves an opportunity," Smyth said. "I know it's really early in the season, but there's an opportunity, there's the desire to get better with each and every month of the season. I see this team and this organization doing that and hopefully it can pay off in the long run."

In the meantime, the old man enjoys being around these kids in L.A.

"I enjoy being on a young team that inspires me on a daily basis," Smyth said.

I think the inspiration is the other way around, Ryan. Congrats on 1,000.