How durable is Ryan Smyth?

28Jun07

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on some rumors that New York Islanders might try and continue their track record of long-term deals with a seven- or eight- year contract offer to Ryan Smyth (though I suppose that’s a short-term deal for Charles Wang & company).

Look, I understand why Ryan Smyth is such a hot commodity this free agent season. Here’s a proven leader, gritty, tough, great shot, and willing to take a ton of punishment to put the puck in the net. Those aren’t traits you get with just any player, let alone a skill player like Smyth. But here’s the other thing — Smyth is 31 right now. Let’s assume the Islanders sign Smyth to a seven year deal with a $6 million average. So, at age 38, Ryan Smyth’s body will have endured seven more years of cross-checks, grinding, and battles in the slow…all while costing a cap hit of $6 million.

Am I the only one questioning the logic of that? If Smyth’s game wasn’t so physically demanding–and if he’d consistently scored more than 40 goals (36, 36, 23, 27 in the past four seasons)–then maybe I’d see the rational behind it, but to me this just looks like another Charles Wang big-splash move.

I have nothing against Ryan Smyth — in fact, I’d love for the Sharks to sign him. I just imagine that his game will hit a pretty harsh wall when there’d be several years left on that term. I could be wrong and Smyth could have a body of steel, but I wouldn’t sign anyone to more than four or five years max (*cough cough* Craig Rivet for four years?) unless they were under the age of 27.

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5 Responses to “How durable is Ryan Smyth?”

  1. 1 Lyle Richardson

    No, Mike, you’re not the only one questioning that logic. It’s madness, but of course we’ve come to expect that from Charles Wang’s Islanders. The only thing they learned from the Yashin contract apparently is to heavily front-load Smyth’s contract in hopes of making it easier to dump it later in its tenure.

    The ringmaster may have changed, but the circus is still ongoing on Long Island.

  2. 2 Mike Chen

    If you frontload it, how does the buyout work in terms of cap hit and actual dollars paid out?

  3. 3 ninja

    There’s also the fact that the deal would be signed before he is 35 years of age, so if he did retire before the contract was up the Isles would be off the hook.

  4. 4 Ian

    If you want a look at what Ryan Smyth will look like in 6 or 7 years, take a peek at John LeClair’s later years. Except that LeClair was a better goal scorer, I think.

    He scored 40 goals for the Flyers when he was 30, then:
    2000: 7 goals in 16 games
    2001: 25 goals in 82 games
    2002: 18 goals in 35 games
    2003: 23 goals in 75 games
    2005: 22 goals in 73 games
    2006: 2 goals in 21 games

    Then he just plain broke. Those are decent stats, but they aren’t $6 million/year stats, not by a long shot. Maybe Smyth’s more durable than LeClair turned out to be, but are you willing to risk that?

  5. 5 Lyle Richardson

    Mike: It’s two thirds the remaining value spread out over twice the remaining tenure.

    If, for example, Smyth had $9 million remaining on the final three years of his contract it’ll be much more affordable to buy out.


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