Far be it from me to attempt to figure out exactly what Oilers GM and head coach are up to… BUT…. Even though I held out a slim hope that the Oil would sign Ryan Smyth when free agency opened up on July 1st, I wasn’y surprised to hear the news that he had signed a 5 year $31.25 million contract with the Avs. My first thought was, “OMG he is in the same conference. We are going to get our asses kicked, and rightly so.”
More shocking than not getting Ryan Smyth back was the announcement today that Jason Smith is headed south of the 49th to join the Philadelphia Flyers. The longest standing captain in the Oiler’s history was also one of the last to know of the deal which would see him and Joffrey Lupul traded for Joni Pitkanen (Defense) and Geoff Sanderson (Left Winger).
Personally, I am not overly upset to see either of them go. From a strictly HOCKEY standpoint, Smith seems to be on a decline and won’t be missed on the line. From a fans’ point of view his charisma and “heart and soul” position will be missed. Indeed we need our heart and soul players, but not to the detriment of the game. I am certain that Pitkanen can be moulded into the type of player we need on our blue line. He has the ability to skate the puck out of his own zone and make plays. Sanderson compares him to Paul Coffey, but his ability to skate out of his own zone is very Pronger-like! Sadly, Smith was a high minute defensive defense player though he needed the backup of a Pronger to get it done. With Pronger gone Smith, for all his talent and heart and soul was lost.
Regarding Lupul: “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” I have never seen a player who skates standing straight up leaving himself open to being checked and having the puck stolen. I have also never heard a player whine that had his pevious team not traded him he would be wearing a Stanley Cup ring. Did he stop to wonder had Anaheim not traded him for Pronger would they have even won the cup? Sheesh. At -29 over 81 games, he is no great loss. But….
Why Sanderson? This guy changes teams more than Elizabeth Taylor changes husbands. There has to be a reason. My Lord, six teams in 10 years, two of them (Vancouver and Columbus) twice. He has proven to be a power player in a playoff series, but why has he been traded around so much? It isn’t an inability to score goals. He scored 25 goals in 75 games with Phoenix. Perhaps they are looking for someone to fire. Fire him and save money….
With the Oilers’ draft picks and these trades, Lowe certainly has an idea what he is doing. I just don’t see it yet. It looks like, instead of taking time to rebuild the team, Lowe and MacT are trying for a cup run in 2007-08. If this is the case, more power to them. Perhaps it is time to open the pocket-book early and get s a couple of powerhouses for the ENTIRE season instead of saving for a rainy day and almost guaranteeing a mid-season thunderstorm requiring that saved money be spent.
My final question…. Is Ethan Moreau going to play this season? He was supposed to be back in March but never materialized.