With a team of such young talent, the Edmonton Oilers were able to keep one of their own veterans shortly before he would have been available on the free agent market.
The Oilers announced Sunday they have signed forward Ryan Smyth, 36; it reportedly is a two-year contract with an average annual value of $2.25 million. Smyth would have become an unrestricted free agent after finishing a five-year, $31.2 million contract he signed with the Colorado Avalanche in 2007.
Smyth had 46 points in 82 games last season for the Oilers after being away from them for four-plus seasons. Smyth was a first-round pick by the Oilers in 1994 (No. 6) and played in Edmonton until he was traded to the Islanders late in the 2006-07 season. He went on to play in Colorado and Los Angeles before returning to Edmonton via trade last summer.
Smyth has recorded 806 points in 1,151 NHL regular-season games. He has another 59 points in 93 playoff games and helped the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, when he had 16 points in 24 playoff games.
With young talent Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov, Smyth will continue his role as a veteran leader and mentor on the up-and-coming Oilers, who also won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes Saturday and signed the University of Wisconsin star defenseman to a two-year entry-level contract.