Ryan Smyth, who was one of the most coveted free agents this year, joins good buddy Joe Sakic in the Mile High City.
”Captain Canada” now calls Colorado home.
Ryan Smyth, one of the most sought-after free agents this summer, has signed a five-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche also signed defenseman Scott Hannan away from the San Jose Sharks earlier in the day.
"I think, in the end, it came down to the organization's presentation. Their professionalism was very evident and appreciated," Smyth's agent, Don Meehan, told The Denver Post. "The coach (Joel Quenneville), the manager (Francois Giguere) and assistant coach Tony Granato all made very strong presenations that helped, Ryan talked to Joe Sakic as well. Ryan is very pleased, very happy to be going to Denver."
Smyth's friendship with Sakic was a factor in the deal happening, with Sakic lobbying Smyth via phone from his offseason home in British Columbia according to the Post.
The New York Islanders, who traded for Smyth at the trade deadline last season, made a concerted effort to retain him, but a return to the Western Conference was in the cards for Smyth, the sixth-overall selection of the 1994 Entry Draft.
According to the Associated Press, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, who made retaining Smyth his top priority, got the bad news that Smyth was leaving Long Island shortly before 11 p.m. EDT from the forward's agent Don Meehan.
"It was obviously not what we wanted to hear, but I appreciated the call," Snow said. "Don said we were right in it for Ryan's services until the very end and it was one of the hardest decisions he'd ever been a part of.
"Ryan decided it was best for him and his family to sign with Colorado," Snow said. "The Avalanche are very fortunate to have him and we wish Ryan and his family the best. I said when I made the trade to acquire Ryan from Edmonton that it's a deal I'd do over and over again. My feelings on the move to bring Ryan Smyth to Long Island have not changed."
After scoring 31 goals and 22 assists in 53 games with the Oilers this past season, Smyth was traded to the Islanders when the Oilers realized they would not be able to re-sign him before he tested free agency.
The Islanders traded a pair of prospects, Ryan O’Marra and Robert Nilsson to the Oilers, along with a first-round pick in the ’07 Entry Draft.
For his career, Smyth has scored 270 goals and 294 assists in 788 regular-season games.
In Colorado, Smyth will join another icon of Canadian hockey, Joe Sakic as well as Andrew Brunette, Paul Stastny
, Milan Hejduk
and Wojtek Wolski, giving the Avalanche the makings of two solid scoring lines.
Phil Coffey is NHL.com's editorial director. He has covered the NHL since 1981.