MINNEAPOLIS – Ryan Smyth will almost certainly get his wish to move north of the 49th parallel before the draft weekend concludes, but the Calgary Flames have entered the fray and could end up getting ‘Captain Canada’ instead of his former team in Edmonton.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi said in a conference call Thursday afternoon that he has been speaking to three teams about Smyth. Sources have confirmed those three teams are the Edmonton Oilers, which is Smyth’s preferred destination, the Flames and Winnipeg.
Smyth has no interest in going to Winnipeg, so now it is down to the Flames and Oilers and the fact Calgary has asked defenseman Robyn Regehr to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Buffalo Sabres indicates they might be clearing cap space to make room for Smyth.
“It’s pretty well documented what I’m doing here,” Lombardi said Thursday afternoon. “If it’s a hockey issue, I would not approve of this. But if it’s a personal family issue, it’s hard to argue with that and have a player who’s not going to be happy. I’m not in a great position here. I hope to have that wrapped up here in a day or two.”
When Smyth made the request, it seemed straightforward that he wanted to go back to Edmonton and the Kings would do their best to accommodate him. But one source said that when the Oilers wanted to move Sheldon Souray’s contract to the Kings in return, L.A. contacted the Flames and, to their surprise, found the Flames to be very interested in acquiring Smyth.
Chances are wherever Smyth goes – and he is most certainly on his way back to Alberta – the Kings will not receive much in return, aside from $6.25 million in cap space that would allow them to pursue free agent Brad Richards when free agency opens July 1. If that’s the case, the Smyth trade request might be the best thing to ever happen to the Kings.
One thing is certain, however, the Kings are not about to take any big contracts in return for losing their fourth-highest scorer and a player who initiated this process by requesting a trade in the first place.
Should Smyth go to Calgary and Regehr waive his no-trade clause, it poses an interesting situation for both the Flames and Sabres. Speculation is the Flames would be interested in getting highly touted Sabres prospect Luke Adam, who was named rookie of the year in the American League. In return, the Sabres would get a veteran defenseman who could show leadership and help stabilize a blueline corps that has five regulars – Tyler Myers, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler – who are 25 or under.