Though he shares a striking resemblance in the hair department (blessed be thy mullet), Ryan Smyth is not the second coming of Christ on ice. In fact, he's not even a superstar in the traditional vein of superstar hockey players. He's no Dany Heatley. He's no Alexander Ovechkin. He's not even Daniel Sedin.
But you wouldn't know that if you just read Colorado Avalanche fan message boards for info. Or looked at Smyth's contract---which involves him being paid more than $6 million a year for a very long time.
Ryan Smyth is a down-low, in-the-slot grinder who specializes in tip-in shots and goalie screens. He's gritty and offensively gifted, and has great "hockey sense", but he's not a winger in the style of Teemu Selanne, the speedy, nimble sharpshooter who can score from anywhere on the ice. For an Avalanche example of that type of winger, Milan Hejduk (in his prime) comes immediately to mind.
Ryan Smyth is not that kind of guy. In fact, he's not all that statistically impressive in general:
He's never scored more than 70 points in a season, and in his 11-year career, he's only scored more than 30 goals four times. If he's worth $6 million just based on statistics alone, it's not hard to imagine somebody like Sidney Crosby earning $15 million when his contract with the Penguins eventually comes up for renegotiation. Maybe that's okay in baseball, but it can't work in the NHL.
Now, don't get me wrong, I like Ryan Smyth and think he'll make an excellent addition to the Avalanche roster, especially on a line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Each player brings a different, complimentary style of play to the ice, and combined they could do a lot of damage (in theory, of course). But Smyth is not the best player in the NHL. He's a great leader, a gritty winger, and generally a good person to have in a locker room. Just don't get any ideas that he'll be vying for the Art Ross Trophy at the end of next season, or that the Avalanche will instantly become a Cup contender the second he steps on the ice.
His mullet, however, is unparalleled.