Ryan Smyth is returning to where his NHL career began, and where he had his best seasons.
Less than a week after requesting a trade for family reasons, the Los Angeles Kings have traded Smyth back to the Edmonton Oilers, in exchange for forward Gilbert Brule and a fourth round draft pick.
Smyth, 35, scored 23 goals and 47 points for the Kings last season, and has one season remaining on his current contract, paying him $4.5 million, but with a cap hit of $6.25 million. The Oilers will be able to easily afford that, as it'll help them get up over the minimum cap level of $48.3 million for next season.
He comes back to the city where he spent the first ten and a half years of his NHL career, earning the love of Oilers fans for his energetic, two way style. He was however dealt away mid-way through the 2006-07 season to the NY Islanders, which was memorable for Smyth's tearful farewell press conference.
Smyth played only 18 regular season games with the Islanders, signing with the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent, but played only two seasons there, agreeing to waive his movement clause to accept a trade to the LA Kings, where he spent the past two seasons.
Oilers fans are undoubtedly overjoyed at Smyth's return and he'll undoubtedly get a loud welcome in his first home game back with the Oilers next season.
That being said, however, age and his gritty style of play has slowly but surely been catching up to Smyth, as his points totals have been in a slow decline since netting 68 points in 2006-07.
Given the young talent on the Oilers, he'll be able to play an invaluable role as leader and mentor, and won't have to face the burden of carrying the captaincy or playing the same kind of minutes he used to.
As for Brule, he joins his third team in seven seasons since making his NHL debut in 2005-06 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Injuries and inconsistency have hampered the development of the 24-year-old right winger, but he'll have a chance to get his career on track with the Kings, as he'll likely be looked at to fill the spot on right wing vacated by Wayne Simmonds, who was dealt to Philadelphia in the Mike Richards trade.
**UPDATE** The trade was delayed for two days as the Kings had concerns over Brule's injury history. The trade has since been revised, with young center Colin Fraser instead of Brule going to the Kings. The draft pick was also changed, to a seventh rounder in 2012.