The big shock of the weekend, for me, anyway, was Ryan Smyth accepting a trade out of Colorado.
For someone who made a very big deal about where he would sign last year, he sure seemed ready to get the heck out of Denver. And while the Banff native was probably happy to get a little further west, why would anyone willingly go to the Kings (Smyth had a no-trade clause), who are still lots and lots of pieces away from being successful.
Adrian Dater says the writing was on the wall; that all signs indicated the Avs were going to try and unload Smyth and his salary and they go into rebuilding mode. Perhaps Smyth figured if he was going to be a part of a rebuilding effort, it might as well be someplace sunny. Or maybe he realized if he didn’t OK the trade, he could just be waived and claimed without consent.
I also suspect he welcomed the chance to play for a team that’s fortunes were on the way up, rather than on the decline. The Avs are in an absolute freefall, the sharp signing of goalie Craig Anderson aside. The Kings still have a lot of question marks, including their work ethic, but work ethic is certainly something Smyth can help with. His skills are not what they were, but he’s a guy who always goes straight to the net, regardless of what’s going on around him. Or to him. The Kings will learn a lot by watching Smyth.
Speaking of getting to the net, Larry Brooks isn’t a big fan of the Rangers signing Donald Brashear, a bit of a Ranger-beater over the years.
My suspicion is the Rangers want Brashear’s size to set-up in front of the net. New York still lacks any kind of big body and Brashear is big, with decent hands and shockingly OK speed. A lot of teams, most notably Anaheim, are experimenting with using lower-skilled players on the powerplay, to just sit in the slot, looking for rebounds. Even if they can’t convert, the gigantic bodies still acts as a screen for the opposing goalie. Brashear can’t do much, but this is something he can probably handle.
That’s the only reason I can think of for signing an enforcer that old. Of course, most Ranger fans will tell you they’d much prefer a legitimate big man. But the Rangers have never seemed very into that idea. I feel like they’re looking very wistfully at Montreal’s pee wee line.