Ryan Smyth will be on the ice when the Edmonton Oilers open training camp Tuesday. That much is certain.
What remains unknown is whether Smyth will report for the start of camp with a one-year contract in his pocket or a version of the latest multi-year offer the Oilers pitched to agent Don Meehan late yesterday afternoon - a pact believed to be for a term of four seasons.
"We submitted another offer and we'll see where it goes," said Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson, who declined to comment on whether the sides narrowed the financial gap during talks yesterday.
The Oilers and Smyth have a one-year deal on the table that is worth slightly more than his qualifying offer of $2.698 million, so there's no chance the veteran left-winger will miss the start of camp. "I'll be there because we've got the one-year deal in place," Smyth said."If we can't agree on the long-term, I'll take my qualifying offer and be ready to go. It's one year or whatever we settle on."
Smyth and Meehan will spend the weekend digesting the latest offer and are expected to respond by Monday. If Smyth opts for the one-year contract, he'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
MORRISON SIGNS: As expected, the Oilers and goaltender Mike Morrison have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
Morrison, 26, put together a solid 2004-05 campaign while splitting time between the Edmonton's AHL farm team and Greenville of the ECHL.
Despite a modest 2-5-4 record with the Road Runners, Morrison had a miniscule 1.73 goals-against average and a .939 saves percentage in 14 appearances. He went 13-10-0 with a 2.74 GAA in Greenville.
With Jussi Markkanen on the shelf for at least three more weeks with a fractured collarbone, Morrison will figure in the mix behind Ty Conklin with Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk until the Finn is ready to go.
"He's shown he's capable of being a good AHL goalie, for sure, and a good depth goalie," Howson said of Morrison.
The complication with Morrison is the Oilers don't have a spot for him in the AHL if he doesn't make the NHL roster. Deslauriers is targeted for the Oilers' one goaltending spot in Hamilton if he doesn't win a job here, meaning Morrison could end up back in the ECHL.
BIRTHDAY BOY INJURED: Defenceman Jordan Little, the Making The Cut participant invited to camp by the Oilers, sprained his back early in yesterday's scrimmage in Spruce Grove and is listed as out day-to-day.
Little, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, tweaked his back while winding up for a slapshot.
He was in considerable discomfort after the session and might not be ready for tomorrow's rookie game against the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
"My goal is to be back Sunday," said Little, who played with the University of Manitoba Bisons last season. "I like beating those guys."
ROOKIE WATCH: While the final list of rookies to attend main camp won't be decided until after the game with the Golden Bears at Clarke Drake Arena, there could be a handful of surprises joining no-brainers like Matt Greene, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Robbie Schremp, J.F Jacques and Yan Stastny.
Four left-wingers have impressed and should get invitations. Colton Yellow Horn, Swede Frederik Pettersson, Troy Bodie of the Kelowna Rockets and Mike Duco all warrant a longer look.
AROUND THE RINK: Markkanen will have his collarbone X-rayed again Monday, at which time his status will be updated ... Barring unforeseen good news, Markkanen will miss all of camp and the majority of the Oilers eight pre-season games.