What needs to be remembered is that Smyth is playing a clear bottomsix role. He's logging PK, some PP, but largely seeing guys like Gazdik who benefit greatly from time spent with Smyth.
Frankly when Gaz is paired with somebody like Smyth he can play some minutes. When not he has difficulty being anywhere but ownzone.
When looking at Smyth its not just his play, its how does he help other players? Smyth has usually possessed a solid attitude and shown a good level of compete in his career.
Used properly he can be part of an effective bottomsix and for a commensurate price. Think of him as just a relatively skilled bottomsix player that can make some contributions and score some goals.
Untimely penalties, yes, but last night was a chintzy call. The king of thing that happens 25 times in a game that doesn't get a call. It was a threshold contact call. It was even holding, couldn't even consider it as such. That said somebody needs to talk to Smyth about taking penalties when he's behind the play. This is his clear pattern. I get that its compete and not wanting a guy to leave him in the dust, but he needs to position better out there and not get in those situations. like a lot of older players there's appreciable denial about the wheels. The memory says you can get back in plays, the body says no.
I'd like to see "The Other Ryan" get some gravy time auditioning for the role of "Net Front" on the Oiler PP.
Its gotten to the point of silly...how hard the Oilers are trying to get 94 his milestone PPG. All for somewhat of a secondary statistic, too. I feel like Jonesy has some ability to help the team out platooning in that capacity...but...now is the perfect time to work him into it. Not the start of next year...when Smyth is a full step slower than he is right now and the team is back playing meaningful games...for a few weeks in the fall...haha...
Smyth is playing better this season but I'm not sure where he fits into the lineup next year. Ideally we are bringing in an actual third line left winger for next season. Does that mean Smyth bumps Gazdic out of the lineup? Does one of them move to right wing?
It should be simply a matter of asking: If he weren't playing for the Oilers, what would he be doing?
I doubt he is a viable player for a playoff team.
And most teams not contending for a playoff spot...are going to use the opportunity to build for the future...rather than hang onto a piece of the past.
Ryan might be playing SR AAA hockey next year, with his older brother.
While I agree with a lot of this theres always the concern of balance in this lineup. A young lineup that needs some veteran support. So casting Smyth off to make way for another development prospect is potentially both good and bad.
I think any club, like a family, has to determine how many kids they can raise at the same time and with however many supports.
If we could find more effective players like Gordon, Hendricks, Perron who are solid veterans than clearly Smyth is pushed off the map. But tbh I think for us to be competitive we have to start doing better than both the Ryans in our bottomsix config. Jones hasn't been the same player he once was either.
Very few things frustrate me more than watching 94 take a blatant penalty and showing off his you gotta be kidding me face while beaking the refs. Not a good example for the youth on the team, and bad for the team in general. If this guy makes our squad next year it's just another example of Oilers brass putting sentiment before success.
Great topic. So strange for me how time has changed my perception of Smyth.
Loved Smyth's heart and grit from day one, however I have always preferred skilled players and have always thought Smyth did not belong in our top 6 or top line.
I grew up with Gretzky/Messier and then Weight/Guerin and slew full of respectable players in between. The Ryan Smyth years, as I refer to them, were a massive disappointment to me. Barely making or missing the playoffs and getting beat up by the Dallas stars in the first round. Hockey in general kind of sucked, too much clutch and grab.
He left over money, and a rather small amount of money if rumor is true, traveled to other teams where they quickly found out he has been playing over his head much as I always suspected. Weak skater, ok passer, and a terrible shot his weakness make him very "situational" to use. I remember watching an interview with Smyth during his time with LA and his teammates were poking fun at him for his stick, his skating, and most especially his shot.
For me it was good riddance and I wasn't really keen on him coming back but figured our young players could use some grit and heart in their game so whatever.
He comes back and out of the gate looks amazing. 30-40 games in he is perma gassed and one of the worst players on the ice night in and night out. Overused and under skilled.
This year, however I must say my whole outlook has changed. Ryan Smyth was used properly, on the 4th line and special team minutes and has been an effective player.
After 8 years with no playoffs I also respect his skill set much more than I used to as well. While I still believe he shouldn't have been on our top line I have to give him props for helping us make the playoffs as much as he did. Taylor Hall despite being a much more skilled player, as an example, simply can not be said to be able to do the same.
Making the playoffs is hard and Smyth was a big part of why we made it the years we did.
He is playing well for a fourth liner and if he can maintain that level of play I would not mind him being signed for one more year at a low 1 mill/year type price.
I just hope management realizes that his level of play could drop off completely and then he would have to be buried mid season if that were to happen. Which I don't, management is not strong enough to do. They probably are grooming Smyth as the next head coach.
But a big thanks to Smyth for all that he has done for the Oilers.