EDMONTON - Ryan Smyth admits he may have painted himself into a corner when it comes to contract negotiations with the Edmonton Oilers.
Admitting he is only interested in playing with the Oilers has eliminated whatever leverage the veteran winger may have had heading into unrestricted free agency.
Regardless, Smyth is optimistic he and the club can come together on a deal that will keep him in town for a while longer.
“I guess, you can say I painted myself into a corner, but on the other end of it, I still believe I have a lot left in me and I have a lot left to give,” said Smyth as the Oilers packed their bags Monday and went their separate ways for the summer. “I came back to this organization not only because of the history I have here, but because of the direction where I think this team is going.
“I’m confident things will work out. I want to be an Oiler and they know that, and I hope they want me as a player. We want to bring back something here that can be special, and that’s being in the playoffs.”
Smyth was welcomed back with open arms when requesting a trade out of Los Angeles due to family reasons last summer.
Early in the season, the move appeared to be a great one. Smyth played as though he had turned back time, collecting 26 points in his first 26 games, scoring 12 goals in the process.
However, time usually has the final say, and it seemed to catch up to Smyth, who collected 20 points in his final 56 games.
“I wouldn’t say that I ran out of gas, I would just say I played different minutes,” said Smyth. “I didn’t kill penalties in L.A. and I did here. When you play three to five minutes on the PK, you’re doing some hard minutes.
“Those are different minutes than I’m used to playing. When you have your top guys sitting there and not killing then they get out there, they get that burst of energy, that goes a long way.”
As the year progressed and the Oilers’ young talent began to blossom, Smyth and a number of other veterans saw their roles alter.
He took on a bigger checking role, which probably accounted for his dip offensively.
It’s a role Smyth is expected to continue playing with the Oilers if the two sides can come to an agreement on a new contract.
What that role is worth, and how long he can play it, is currently the sticking point on a new deal.
“I believe I still got it,” Smyth said. “I think I’m capable of playing at a high level, whether it’s on the first two lines or a checking line. Wherever they want to put me, I can do it.
“It’s the first time in a little while that I’ve taken on that role and I know I’m capable of playing top-six minutes. But I want to be an effective player for the team, even if that means killing penalties.”
Smyth says there hasn’t been much negotiating between the two sides recently.
The Oilers did put a deal on the table towards the trade deadline, which was not accepted. Smyth is looking for an extended deal with the Oilers that will give him security for at least the next couple of seasons.
“Sometimes that stuff doesn’t come easy,” he said. “But I’m confident that things will get done.”