Unable to reach new deal, Oilers trade Smyth to Isles

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers couldn't reach a
new deal with Ryan Smyth so they dealt the star forward to the New
York Islanders just before Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.

The Oilers received prospects Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra --
both first-round draft picks -- and a first-round selection in this
year's draft for Smyth.

Smyth was not available for comment Tuesday, saying he did not want to take away any attention from Mark Messier Night in Edmonton.

Smyth's agent Don Meehan said that he and the Oilers talked over
the last 24 hours but couldn't get a deal done.

"I'm surprised actually given what Ryan is to the community and
what he has been to the franchise," Meehan said. "But I
understand that with all due respect they have the ability to make
these decisions and that's what management has to do in these

Smyth, 31, is making $3.5 million this season and is due to
become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, meaning the Oilers
were at risk of losing him for nothing in the offseason. It's
believed he had been hoping for a long-term deal with the Oilers
worth at least $5 million a season.

"I think we had a different view in relation to where we felt
Ryan was at, in relation to the industry given what transpired this
past summer with free agency and the people that would be available
this summer in relation to free agency," Meehan said. "So I think
we felt strongly in that position."

Smyth led the Oilers in scoring this season with 31 goals and 22
assists in 53 games. But the Oilers are facing long odds to reach
the playoffs. Heading into Tuesday's game against Phoenix, they
trailed the Calgary Flames by nine points for the final playoff
berth in the Western Conference.

New York sat in ninth place in the East at the start of play
Tuesday, one point behind Carolina and the playoff cutoff.

"Ryan Smyth is a premier NHL player," Islanders general
manager Garth Snow said. "The New York Islanders are proud to have
Ryan become a member of our organization."

It was the only deal Tuesday for the Islanders, who kept leading
scorer Jason Blake despite the possibility that he can be an
unrestricted free agent this summer.

Smyth didn't have the look of a player that was about to be
dealt during the pregame skate in the morning.

He skated hard through drills and joked with his teammates.
While taking off his equipment, he carefully examined a white board
outlining the schedule for Mark Messier's number retirement
ceremony later Tuesday.

It is arguably the biggest trade the Oilers have made since
sending Messier to the New York Rangers in 1991. While they dealt
players like Doug Weight and Jason Arnott after that, neither
player was beloved like Smyth in Edmonton.

A native of nearby Banff, Smyth was drafted by the Oilers sixth
overall in 1994 and had spent his entire career with the team.

"I think Ryan offers a lot to a franchise, I think he offers a
great deal to any competitive team within the league," Meehan.
"Yes, there was a degree of compromise and I'll convey to you that
both sides compromised throughout this process but not to the
degree where we both felt comfortable that we could come to a

Nilsson was the Islanders' first-round pick in 2003. He's
recorded 12 goals and 33 assists in 50 games with the AHL's
Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

O'Marra, who has won back-to-back gold medals for Canada at the
world junior hockey championship, is currently playing for the
OHL's Erie Otters. He was New York's first-round pick in 2005.