by Lisa McRitchie on 05/29/12 at 11:30 AM ET
No, you have not stepped back in time, but it has been reported that the Oilers and Ryan Smyth aren’t much closer to a deal new deal than they were last summer. According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:
The holdout here is not term. It is the money. Nobody is saying what the Oilers are offering, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the $2.5 million-$2.75 million range. Smyth could be looking for more than $3 million a year.
Smyth, who made $4.5 million in salary last year, has chosen not to talk about about his current negotiations. But, he likely doesn’t want to take a huge haircut in salary. So, we have a stalemate.
While Smyth may not be the same player that the team drafted, time has a funny way of changing people, he is still quite valuable to a team that lacks the depth it will take to take the next steps forward. Smyth also knows better than most on the team what it means to be a professional hockey player in a fishbowl city like Edmonton where you cannot go to Tim Hortons for a coffee without hearing about the power play (a story Dustin Penner mentioned).
But there is the matter of keeping the young players the team has already begun to groom and prepare for long and successful careers. And of course, the additional top player they get to add this season. By setting aside “too much” of the pie for Ryan Smyth, even the Smyth loving fans of Edmonton could start to turn or at the very least get a little upset.
Matheson compares Smyth to Milan Hejduk, who is the same age and who got $3 million, but there is also Todd Bertuzzi’s deal we can have a look at. Bertuzzi is signed through the next two seasons with a cap hit of $2,075,000.
This isn’t the same $100,000 gap from the last contract negotiations, but if these numbers are close the chasm may be the same. And although Smyth came home to finish his career, there may once again be tears at the airport.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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