Oilers came out swinging, but ended up floored

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

The two fans who showed up early in the morning outside the Edmonton Oilers' office with signs urging Kevin Lowe to bring back Ryan Smyth, were long gone.

Lowe said he was one of the nine teams to express interest in Smyth in yesterday's free-agent frenzy.

"We phoned Ryan's agent and said we definitely wanted to make an offer to Ryan," said Lowe.

The Oilers' GM, who offered Smyth $5.4 million U.S. over five years at the trade deadline, didn't come close to the five year, $31.25-million deal the Colorado Avalanche gave to the former face-of-the-franchise player.

Lowe, despite declaring himself a player in the free agent sweepstakes "for the first time" yesterday, didn't get a sniff when it came to any of the top five players available.

The usual suspects from the pre-lockout years, the Flyers (Daniel Briere), Rangers (Scott Drury and Scott Gomez), Avalanche (Smyth) and Red Wings (Brian Rafalski) went nuts with a new $50.3-million salary cap to work with. And all Lowe and the others could do was say 'aw nuts.'

"It's disappointing to this point not to land any free agents," said Lowe.

After holding an evening availability to discuss the trade of Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul to Philadelphia for Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson, Lowe and the Oilers are still in there swinging for the next level of free agents.

"We have a couple in the works we hope to conclude tonight or in the next couple of days."

He said he considers July 1 the beginning, not the end.

"It's the beginning of the improvement of our hockey club," he said of the trade. "We intend to be active all summer long."

Coach Craig MacTavish said it was a long day with more to come as they headed back to the phones.

"Kevin and I feel like we're members of the Chamber of Commerce" he said of trying to sell players on coming to Edmonton.

"Arguably we have more flexibility," he said of all the big deals being done.

"We're still trying to make a free-agent signing."

If yesterday was a Christmas without getting anything, maybe they'll get something on sale on Boxing Day?


Videos

Photos