The Return of Ryan?
New York Islander and Edmonton Oiler fans all remember that moment in 2007 when the fates of the two franchises came together in one person: Ryan Alexander Gordon Smyth.
In a tearful press conference that was major news all over Canada and, in fact, was featured on The National—the CBC's nationwide news broadcast—Smyth bid Oiler fans an emotional farewell. His departure marked the beginning of the Oilers' rebuild.
It was also big news on Long Island as the Islanders pushed for what has proven to be their last playoff appearance to date with Smyth leading the way. Unfortunately, the team flamed out in the first round, and Smyth spurned the Islanders' extension offer to head back west to Colorado. That move led, in turn, to the current Islander rebuild.
Islander fans who had so enthusiastically embraced Smyth now booed him with equal enthusiasm whenever he returned to the Island to play. With Smyth's return to Edmonton to lead the youth movement his departure brought about, the circle was complete.
Or was it?
Could Smyth also play a role for the rebuilt Islanders? It might seem unlikely, but there is one slim possibility.
The Islanders are, for the first time since Smyth's arrival in 2007, in position to make another playoff push. One major problem holding them back has been a lack of scoring.
Compounding the difficulty is the fact that P.A. Parenteau, one of their leading point producers, has proven difficult to re-sign.
Should the Islanders bring back Ryan Smyth?
This is quite a dilemma for Garth Snow, the Islanders' general manager. Trading away Parenteau would likely deal a fatal blow to playoff hopes, but letting him walk away for nothing would not be good either.
One solution might be to make Parenteau part of a package that would bring Smyth back to the Island. The Isles would likely have to add a draft pick or prospect with the deal.
Smyth's 36 points and gritty play would make for a very effective second line. His proven leadership and experience would also greatly benefit this young team.
One significant negative is that he would almost certainly be a rental this time. It's all but certain that he would return to Edmonton next fall.
If, however, he were able to lead the Islanders back to the playoffs and into a serious playoff run, signing a free agent to take his place this summer would be a much easier task. It could also help secure the arena deal the Islanders have long sought.
So is Captain Canada an Islander savior after all? We will see.