Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't Cry: Thanks For The Memories Smytty

I'm sad Smytty's gone
No tearful farewellJust a bunch of rumorsA denialSome awkward negotiationsAnd finally, #94 was gone.

Smytty put DL and the Kings in a tough spot.  Demanding a trade is hard enough for a GM.  Requesting a trade to only one team is nearly impossible.  Give DL credit for accommodating Smyth and his family.  Hopefully, players around the league take notice that the Kings organization does have some class after all.

Everyone was all smiles a couple years ago
I was ecstatic when the Kings acquired Ryan Smyth two years ago from Colorado.  I knew on July 3, 2009 that the Kings were beginning to transition from rebuilding to contending.  The fact, that DL was willing to absorb a $6.25 million cap hit for the next three seasons said alot.  Sure enough, Smyth was as-advertised if not better.  His veteran leadership and presence in front of the net was something that the Kings sorely needed.  His 45 goals over the last two seasons was third to only Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown (4th, if you include Dustin Penner's goals in EDM).  His 20 power-play goals over the past two seasons is tied for the team-high with Kopi.  Oh.  And don't forget the Kings made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.

Then out of left field, Smytty wants out and word is that the Kings would be willing to move Smytty for 'mid-range draft pick'.  Smytty's $6.25 million cap hit is a tough contract for any team to take on but his value to the Kings was absolutely worth more than a draft pick (or so I thought).  Even if the Kings were to clear his contract off the books; there's not many UFA left wingers that could provide the type of production that Smyth has brought over the past two seasons. 

In the end, the Kings acquired Gilbert Brule and a fourth-round pick and I was genuinely excited.  I'm a sucker for young talent and prospects.  Still only 24, Brule has had an up-and-down pro career marred by injuries.  He showed signs of life in 2009-10 before completely falling flat on his face last season.  At a $1.85 million cap hit, the price was steep but the upside is still there.  If he were able to play 70 plus games; Brule could have been a productive third-line player with second-line upside.  Unfortunately, he's not healthy but he is a good person.  Although, it saddens me to read that the Kings had no intentions of keeping Mr. Brule.

Colin FraserSo instead, the Kings got a healthy Colin FraserWho by all accounts will probably be as much of an offensive threat as a concussed Gilbert Brule.  Fraser comes with a cap hit of $825K and the pick went from a 4th to a 7th.  So you could say the difference in value from a 4th to 7th round pick is roughly a million bucks.  While most Kings fans expected Fraser to be bought out, DL says Fraser will get an opportunity to compete for a spot, presumably a 4th-line role.  He's a defense-first forward and is serviceable in that role.
"...Colin Fraser was hardly a non-participant. That his best skill, shot blocking, is one that neutralizes the opposition as opposed to initiating something positive in and of itself, is something of a tell."
Don't get me wrong.  DL filled a huge hole acquiring Mike Richards as the Kings #2 center but the departure of Smyth now leaves a gaping hole on the left wing.  Colin Fraser won't be potting 20 goals anytime soon.  Or leading the Kings in power-play goals.  I don't know where the Kings look to fill the void left by Smyth.  The Kings will lean on players already on the roster.  Yes.  That means Dustin Penner.  Yes.  That means Scott Parse.  Unfortunately, I'm not sold on either.  Paul Kariya anyone?

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