SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers, Smyth far apart on deal

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers and agent Don Meehan are continuing negotiations on a multi-year contract for Ryan Smyth, but don't expect there to be a deal in place when the veteran winger reports for his camp medical and fitness testing at the U of A today.

Smyth, 29, will be on the ice tomorrow when camp opens at Rexall Place, but indications are Meehan and the Oilers have a big financial gap to close on a four-year deal after exchanging proposals on the weekend.

"They came at us with a couple of different multi-year deals," Smyth said yesterday. "We've replied and now we're waiting to hear back."

As previously reported, the Oilers and Smyth have agreed on a one-year deal -for slightly more than Smyth's $2.698 million qualifying offer - as a fallback position.

Terms of two, three and four years remain possibilities, but the likelihood of settling on the one-year pact grows as each day passes.

"I would love to have had this done months ago," Smyth said.

"If we can't come to terms, we've got the one-year deal in place. We've made strides and they've made strides trying to get this done."

TONY STAYS HOME: Tony Salmelainen is listed on the Oilers camp roster, but he won't be here when the puck drops tomorrow.

Salmelainen, 24, signed a multi-year deal with HIFK in Helsinki April 22 and he'll stay home in Finland rather than attend camp, assistant GM Scott Howson said.

The Oilers retain the NHL rights to Salmelainen, who scored 22-24-46 in 75 games with the Edmonton Road Runners of the AHL last season.

AROUND THE RINK: The Oilers have until next June 1 to sign 2002 first-round pick Jesse Niinimaki to retain his rights ... The same holds true for other European draft picks, with the possible exception of 2000 first-round pick Alexei Mikhnov. The status of Russian picks like Mikhnov is unclear because his country has yet to sign the agreement between the IIHF and NHL that governs player transfers.


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