Gritty winger Ryan Smyth, he of the flowing mane and illustrious nickname “Captain Canada” (complete with Canadian Tuxedo?), will sign a 5-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche at an average of $6 million a year. The high-scoring former Oiler/Islander will fit in well with the Avalanche offensive system and should provide a much-needed presence deep in the slot, receiving dead-on passes from either Paul Stastny or Joe Sakic as a member of either the top or second line. Or both. Or maybe Smyth will just levitate above the ice like Hockey Jesus and toss pucks into opposing goals using only his mind. Judging from the overwhelmingly positive response among Avalanche fans, you’d think he could do that.
Smyth reportedly received competitive offers from 10 teams, including the Islanders, who acquired him last season from the Oilers at the trade deadline. The Avalanche apparently made the most appealing pitch, however. The Islanders now have nothing to show for their initial deal, which cost them two future prospects and a high draft pick. They also lost Jason Blake (40 goals) and a couple of other decent players which means their playoff days are likely done for a while.
There is no doubt that Ryan Smyth will have a positive impact on the Avs this coming season. If he doesn’t, he can join Jose Theodore on the bench, where overpaid underachievers get to hang out during Avalanche games. Theodore, whose deadline for being bought out passed yesterday, will be resuming his role as the highest-paid backup goaltender in the NHL this coming season.