Midseason Grade: A-
Final Grade: A-
Joined Team: Signed as a free agent, July 1st, 2007
MHH Nicknames: Smitty, Alice the Goon.
- LW (77)
- 1st (72)
- 2nd (5)
- Stastny (37)
- Wolski (26)
- Hensick (7)
- Arnason (5)
- Sakic (1)
- Hejduk (60)
- Svatos (7)
- Stewart (5)
- Willsie (3)
- Jones (1)
- Laperriere (1)
- TOT 20:17 (2nd)
- EV 15:23 (1st)
- PK :51 (7th)
- PP 4:01 (2nd)
*Rank is based on total minutes, not average per game.
Best Month: December (14 points in 14 games)
Career Highlights: Smyth didn't set any career highs, but he did score his 300th goal during the season. He is 80 games away from 1,000.
Report: I believe this is the 35th grade I've done this year for a player, so the following sentence is long overdue: Congratulations, Ryan Smyth, you are receiving the highest grade this year with your A-.
Smyth struggled last year with injuries, inconsistency and some clueless line management from Joel Quenneville. He didn't quite have the big rebound I was hoping for, but he did indeed bounce back nicely, tying for the team lead in points, with 59. That's not exactly an Art Ross level for scoring, but scoring points is not the only part of Ryan Smyth's game.
Simply put, Smyth was our most consistent player throughout the season. Night after night, he came ready to work and frequently was our best player on the ice. Sadly, on many of those nights, he failed to register any points, but the work was definitely there. I think by now most people know that Smyth is one of the best players in the league in the crease. I don't think I was aware that he's actually surprisingly adept at working behind the net as well, but that's now apparent too. Although most of his best work is within 10 feet of the boards, he had a couple of big goals from farther out, such as his 300th and that hilarious no-look goal he scored against Phoenix (I think).
Despite the terrific season, there are a couple of negatives to report. Too many dumb penalties would be one. And while Smyth's aggressive forecheck is admirable, his lack of speed burned him when he got stuck going too deep on the play. This was particularly bothersome on the penalty kill; personally, I'd rather see someone else on the ice on such ocassions. Oh, and the "we just play for the logo on the jersey" stuff was cute the first couple of times I heard it, but it started to feel a wee bit contrite after repeated listenings. Are there any other hockey cliches in the well we could add to the repretoire?
Fun Fact: Smyth wears #94 because that is the year he graduated from high school. This has to be the least interesting story behind a jersey number ever.
The Ryan Smyth Drinking Game: Drink when Smyth raises his hands innocently in an effort to avoid a penalty Drunk potential: Tremendous
What I Said Last Year: "$6.25 million is a lot of money to pay for 37 points, and already there's some grumbling in, um, ‘Lancheland, about his contract. I thought Smyth was a perfect addition to the team and could put up 40 goals in the ugly Avalanche uniform. I still think he can do that. Smyth has a chance to rebound with a big, big year. Even a slightly better year would be a big help to the team."
2008 Salary (and Cap Number): $7.25M ($6.25M)
2009-2010 Status: Smyth is signed for 3 more seasons at $6.25M. He has a NTC.
Outlook for 2009: There were a lot of rumors that the Avalanche were shopping Smyth at the trade deadline. Nothing ever materialized, of course, the Smyth trade chatter has started up again this offseason. Given that Smyth is a Giguere hire, a trade would not be surprising. Disappointing, perhaps, but not shocking. Of course, the Avalanche would need to find a suitable deal with a team Smyth would be interested in waiving his NTC for, and I believe his shortlist of potential destinations is going to be a small one. With that in mind, I expect Smyth to be riding shotgun with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk on the top line next season. And dammit, I still think he's going to score 40 goals some year.
Next Up: Per Ledin