ST. PAUL, Minn. - Ryan Smyth's desire to return to the Edmonton Oilers remains on hold.
A deal for the Los Angeles Kings forward hit a snag during the draft weekend and left the veteran in limbo. Prior to leaving Xcel Energy Center, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi indicated the Oilers hadn't offered the right package to seal the transaction.
"I have to replace this player," Lombardi said Saturday. "That's the only urgency for me is I have to replace him. In order to replace him, whatever I'm taking back has to allow me full freedom to keep that (cap) space available. If that is not there, I can't do this deal.
"Those conditions weren't there so there's no deal."
At the outset of the weekend, it appeared to be nearing completion. Smyth's agent Don Meehan confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday night that Smyth had formally waived his no-movement clause — but the deal fell apart before it was approved by the NHL.
The problem appears to lie with the fact Edmonton was offering Gilbert Brule and a fourth-round draft pick in return for Smyth. The Kings intended to buy out the final year of Brule's US$1.85-million deal, but were concerned that his slew of health problems would prevent that from happening.
Even though Lombardi didn't spell that scenario out directly, he hinted at it.
"It was very clear I couldn't do what I needed to do with that player I'm taking back," he said.
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini was reluctant to speak about the status of a trade that would reunite Smyth with the organization where he enjoyed his best seasons.
"I wish I could give you something new right now," Tambellini said Saturday. "But I honestly don't have anything."
Smyth had 23 goals and 24 assists in 82 games last season with Los Angeles. He started his NHL career with the Oilers in 1994-'95 and spent over a decade with the team before being dealt to the New York Islanders in a surprise deadline deal in February 2007.
He approached the Kings a week ago and told them he wished to be moved.
"It's all for his family," said Lombardi. "His family wants to go home."
The Calgary Flames were also involved in discussions for Smyth, but it was unclear if he might still end up playing for Edmonton's fierce provincial rival.
Flames general manager Jay Feaster acknowledged his interest in Smyth but might be less inclined to continue his pursuit after signing another left-winger, Alex Tanguay, to a $17.5-million, five-year extension on Saturday.
"I've had a lot of conversations with Dean (Lombardi)," said Feaster. "There were always a lot of different moving pieces to it. That was, depending on how things were going to go with Alex and depending upon how things went on the trade front, we were exploring and that was certainly one of the options we were looking at."
No matter what deal emerges, Lombardi figures his team will be worse off when it ends up sending Smyth out of town.
"The thing that's hard about this is this isn't a player we were counting on losing," said Lombardi. "Because actually he had one of his best years for us. He was the first one in the weight room. I thought his first 40 games he was one of our best players.
"He tailed off a little bit in the last 40 and then in the playoffs he was Ryan Smyth, everything you wanted."