Ryan Smyth helped lead the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers on an improbable Stanley Cup finals run last season. The New York Islanders hope he can help deliver a championship to them.
Smyth will take the ice for the first time with his new team when the Islanders host the St. Louis Blues in a matchup of teams involved in some of the NHL's biggest deadline trades.
The Islanders (32-23-8), which haven't advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 1992-93, made one of the biggest splashes before the deadline by adding Smyth for prospects Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra - both former first-round draft picks - and a first-round selection in this year's draft.
Smyth, picked sixth overall by Edmonton in 1994, recorded 265 goals and 284 assists in 770 career games with the Oilers. Last season, he led them with 36 goals, and was fifth on the team in playoff scoring with seven goals and nine assists but Edmonton lost in seven games to Carolina.
Smyth, in the final year of a two-year contract, was unable to reach a new deal with Edmonton but still was surprised and emotional about the trade.
"I've got to turn the page and get a new chapter in life," said a teary-eyed Smyth, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. "The Islanders have given me that opportunity and I thank them for this.
"I'm going to go there and (do) my best to make the playoffs and win that Cup so I can bring it down here to Edmonton. That's where my heart is."
A Banff, Alberta native, Smyth led the Oilers with 31 goals - 14 coming on the power play - and 53 points. New York coach Ted Nolan said Smyth will play on the top line with leading scorer Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin, when he returns from a knee injury.
"A player of Ryan's character and caliber makes every other player in the room better," said Nolan, whose team also added forward Richard Zednik from Washington and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron from Edmonton in recent trades.
New York won its season-high fourth in a row after defeating Philadelphia 6-5 in overtime on Tuesday. Blake, who was rumored to be dealt, posted his fifth career hat trick and added an assist to tie a career-high with four points.
"I came to the rink this morning for the morning skate, and I didn't know if I'd be bringing my equipment home," said Blake, who has a career-high 32 goals this season.
Trent Hunter scored twice, including the game winner with 30.7 seconds left for New York, which has 72 points and is tied with Montreal for seventh in the Eastern Conference and has three games in hand.
The Blues (27-27-9) also were active around the trade deadline - but not for who they picked up.
On Sunday, St. Louis dealt second-leading scorer Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta for forward Glen Metropolit and three draft picks including a first-rounder in 2007. Two days later, leading scorer Bill Guerin was shipped to San Jose for left wing Ville Nieminen, prospect Jay Barriball and a future first-round pick.
Hours after that deal, the Blues got two goals from Doug Weight and won for the fifth time in six games 3-1 over Northwest Division-leading Vancouver.
"It's tough," said Weight, who now is the Blues' leading scorer with 42 points. "Two of my great friends and a big part of our success we had are those guys. It was important to get back on the winning record, especially against this team which had been playing so well."
Brad Boyes will likely make his Blues' debut after picking him up Tuesday from Boston for Dennis Wideman. Boyes had 13 goals and 21 assists in 62 games with the Bruins.
Curtis Sanford made 25 saves in the win and will likely continue to see increased time with Manny Legace out for a few weeks after knee surgery. Veteran forward Martin Rucinsky also will be out indefinitely after hip surgery.
St. Louis is 3-1-1 in its last five visits to Long Island.