An interesting day yesterday, to say the least. Some teams got stronger, others got weaker, and some removed themselves from the playoff picture a season from now. The Edmonton Oilers, for example, have now been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the 2008-2009 season. If I'm an Oiler fan, though, I'm hoping they can swing a deal to get Angelo Esposito, and start building with youth much like the Pittsburgh Penguins have done. Otherwise, the Oilers are now the Phoenix Coyotes of the Great White North.
Kevin Lowe may have made the most ridiculous statement of the day when he said, "Today we turned a page for sure – but this is not as much about the Oilers today, but what we continue to do as part of an overall plan. I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial."
If it was not a financial deal, Kevin, what was it? The opportunity to trade your best player for two third-liners and a first-round draft pick in an already weak draft year? What makes even less sense is that, according to reports, Smyth was asking for around $5.5 million per year. Lowe's offer was $200,000 to $300,000 less than that. Why wouldn't he just offer up the extra dough for the best Oiler in the last decade?
Bob McKenzie of TSN writes, "As near as anybody can tell, the magic number for Ryan Smyth looked to be in and around $5.5 million per year.
"I think this was a number that came to be a reality the moment that the Calgary Flames signed Alex Tanguay to a $5.25 million deal.
"Tanguay is not the face of the Flames franchise and he doesn't have the pedigree of a Ryan Smyth - the world championships, the Olympics - so I think in Ryan Smyth's mind, he started thinking he's a $5.5 million player. The Oilers don't see it that way and as near as anybody can tell, the average annual difference at the end looked to be somewhere between $200,000 a year and $300,000 a year."
If that was the difference in what Smyth wanted, and what Lowe wanted to pay, the Oilers' strategy for the future is significantly flawed.
In the last two weeks, Garth Snow has acquired Edmonton's best offensive defenseman and Edmonton's most complete player for a guy who doesn't want to play in the minors, and two guys who will most certainly be in the minors for a while.
The City of Champions may not see the playoffs for a long time.
The Score's Ultimate 64 Highlights rolls along. Mario Lemieux's embarrassment of Ray Bourque didn't advance yesterday. Let's see what we can do with this beauty save by Norm Maracle.
Bill Guerin thinks he scores, but Maracle uses some Hasek-like moves to keep the puck out of the yawning cage.
I'm still shell-shocked over the Ryan Smyth-for-nobody trade. It might be a long time before I have any respect for Kevin Lowe again. I'm looking forward to the playoffs, though. They should be highly entertaining. Take it easy, and keep your sticks on the ice!