After a lot of confusion and back and forth over the Draft weekend, Ryan Smyth has finally been traded back to the Edmonton Oilers for Colin Fraser and a 7th round pick. The originally rumored deal of Ryan Smyth to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule and a 4th fell apart after it was apparent that Brule was injured and would not be eligible for buyout buy the Kings. Calgary figured to reenter negotiations with the Kings, but the Oilers finally got Captain Canada back, avoiding any embarrassment of the Oiler-great suiting up for their division rival.
The trickle down effect for the Kings from this trade could possibly take all summer to play out. Let’s take a look at what the Kings need to address following the loss of Ryan Smyth:
1. Down goes Fraser? Colin Fraser is a depth forward, listed as a center. He registered 5 points in 67 games last season and was a minus-2. Basically he’s a 4th liner and it was never the intention that the return from Edmonton would be a replacement for Smyth, but be cheap enough (or eligible for buyout) so the Kings could use the space to acquire a replacement. Fraser could stick around and play on the 4th line for the Kings, although they are flush with 4th liners, and Richardson, Lewis, Clifford, and Westgarth all cut their teeth with the Kings and would likely be ahead in line. If the Kings aren’t able to re-sign RFAs Lewis or Richardson, Fraser might be a replacement. The Kings could sent him down to Manchester, which wouldn’t hurt too much since he’s only making $825k. If nothing else, Fraser is an option to plug in on the 4th line.
2. The Replacement(s)? Smyth’s departure adds a hole on the left side, just as Simmonds departure adds one on the right. Replacing Simmonds was no easy task and Smyth will likely be harder. The Kings might be able to replace Smyth’s scoring, but nothing can replace the veteran presence the man provided. However, the leaders of this team have been through the lean years, and now two years of making the playoffs. They have earned the experience that makes trading Smyth more palatable. Now the Kings venture into the unforgiving and overpaying world of Unrestricted Free Agency.
The major issue is, can the Kings find a reliable scorer? Here are just some of the names on the list of potential UFA targets: Brad Richards, Simon Gagne, Tim Connolly, Michael Ryder, Steve Sullivan, Cory Stillman, Tomas Fleiachmann, Vinny Pospal, Brooks Laich, Jussi Jokinen, Ville Leino. Subtract the guys that are injury prone and you’ve got less. Subtract the guys in the twilight of their career and you have less still. Subtract the guys that aren’t fits and you have a handful of targets that could work.
Now you have to win them.
It’s not going to be an easy task and the usually frugal Lombardi might have to relax his iron-grip on his wallet if he wants to win a bidding war this summer. Otherwise Scott Parse and Brad Richardson might be seeing a lot more ice-time than Kings fans want.
3. The Restricted Free Agents? The Kings have a healthy $16 million in cap space, with 10 fwds signed, 5 defensemen, and both goaltenders. Those $16 million are left to sign Doughty, Martinez, Lewis, Richardson, and Smyth and Simmonds’ replacements.
Let’s do a little guess work. Let’s say Doughty gets a Duncan Keith-like contract and it’s a lot of years and $5.6mm per year. Then Martinez signs for 3 years, $1.5mm per. Richardson gets a decent raise to $1mm flat and Lewis the same.
That totals $9.1mm, leaving about $6.9mm left to replace a 2nd line left wing, and a 2nd/3rd line right wing. Completely and totally doable. Of course, my guess-work on the RFA signings isn’t exact and with a player like Doughty the possibilities of a monster contract are there.
Let the summer begin! Go Kings.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney