Ryan Smyth to Rangers Would Have Been Textbook Sather

02 January 2012: Edmonton Oilers left wing Ryan Smyth (94) blocking the view of Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) while playing in a game where the Edmonton Oilers defeated the first place Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3, at the United Center, Chicago, Il

Of course the New York Rangers were supposedly looking into adding Ryan Smyth as a top-six forward (maybe…). The Rangers need scoring, especially given Brad Richards recent cooldown that some might call positively Drury-esque.

Smyth is more than just offense, though. His strong play in both ends would let him slide right into this current Rangers team.

Too bad Smyth is going to be 36 in a few weeks.

Although, to be fair, Smyth’s advanced age hasn’t hurt his production for a defense-oriented Oilers team. He has 16 goals in 52 games this season. And Smyth would just be a rental, as I don’t think he has any long-term desire to live on the east coast, nor do the Rangers have extended plans to retain a player drafted the same year as their last Stanley Cup win.

Any why wouldn’t Rangers GM Glen Sather want Smyth? He’s the perfect example of a Sather acquisition:

  1. Smyth is a big name
    Sather really has two preferred kinds of transactions: big names and fourth liners (that’s why Sather must have loved signings like Mike Rupp and Donald Brashear, as it gave him the chance to sign big-name fourth-liners). There’s really no in-between for him unless he’s trying to dump a big name himself. What is it about stars that gets Sather so excited? It could go back to his time in Edmonton, when Sather couldn’t afford to sign or retain well-known players. Players like Smyth (and Drury and Richards and Gomez…) could be Sather’s Rosebud. Or Sather could understand that in New York City the only way for an NHL team to grab media attention is through flashy trades and signings. The media doesn’t get excited about NHL prospects or potential, no matter how much upside they possess. Plus, Sather’s boss, Jim Dolan loves big-name signings/acquisitions, no matter how ill-conceived or inane they are. The fact that landing Smyth might actually improve the Rangers would just be icing on the cake for Dolan.
  2. Smyth is a big name past his prime
    Because Sather gravitates toward big names, he’s always landing players once they’re past their prime. There’s a certain logic to it. Most teams will do whatever it takes to retain a player who’s still developing. But once that development stops, for most teams that means it’s time to part ways. For the Rangers, that means it’s time to break out the checkbook. Big-name players like Smyth are high-risk (although perhaps not even very high risk; I can’t imagine Edmonton will demand much for him)/high-reward.
  3. Smyth’s an Oiler
    Even before Sather came to New York, there was always a strong trade pipeline between the Rangers and Oilers. While recently it seems the pipeline has shifted southwest to Phoenix, Sather does seem to enjoy turning to Edmonton as a trade partner. Plus, Sather drafted Smyth, so there’s a shared Oilers history between the two men.
  4. Smyth’s a great storyline
    The Stanley Cup playoffs are about storylines as much as hockey. GMs and coaches know you need to keep your team psyched for a grueling post-season. Smyth as a Ranger would be a great story. He would be the grizzled NHL veteran looking to leave his beloved team to make one final run at a Cup. Think Ray Bourque with a mullet. Or an elderly Marian Hossa. Obviously, Smyth still has some offensive skills, but trading for him would be as much for narrative purposes as for on-ice ones. This isn’t so much a Sather move so much as it’s a common NHL GM one.
  5. Smyth takes the spotlight off of the Rangers’ youth movement
    For all the talk about this season being the year the Rangers’ homegrown youth take ownership of the team, that hasn’t really been the case. Derek Stepan is having a tremendous sophomore year and Carl Hagelin has been a great surprise, but Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, two Ranger second-round draft picks, have been tremendous disappointments this season. If either player had lived up to expectations, the Rangers probably would not be interested in renting Smyth. Sather needs Smyth to erase the failures of Dubinsky and Anisimov.
  6. Smyth has the element of surprise
    Sather loves surprise moves. He’s managed to move unmovable players, from Erik Christensen to Scott Gomez to Christopher Higgins, without giving anyone a clue anything might be going on. He’s also managed to acquire players no one thought the Rangers could afford, like Marian Gaborik, when Gaborik hit free agency. Smyth is saying no one’s talked to him about a trade to New York. What would be more surprising than getting Smyth to waive a no-trade without Smyth realizing it?

Smyth needs to come to New York if for no other reasons than to give historians an example of the perfect Sather transaction.

History needs Smyth as a Ranger.