Ryan Smyth open to housing Connor McDavid, contemplating future in front office

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Andy Devlin/NHL)

Following one season away from the game, Ryan Smyth is ready to return to the NHL. But don’t expect him to be strapping on the blades.

In an interview with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, Smyth, 39, said that he’s ready to be involved with hockey again, but he’s unsure how exactly he’ll fit in. One thing is for sure, though: he’d love to make his return as a member of the Oilers organization.

“I would like to sit down with (Oilers Entertainment Group chief executive officer) Bob Nicholson and see what they’re thinking,” Smyth told Matheson. “I want to be involved in hockey but I don’t know in what capacity.” Read more

Why Cam Talbot is better prepared for Edmonton than you think

Matt Larkin
Cam Talbot (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

Nothing puts Cam Talbot’s new life in a nutshell like the simple act of trying to speak with him.

He’s easy enough to find at Smashfest, Dominic Moore’s charity ping-pong tournament. Talbot, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, towers over most of the NHL players, journalists and fans in attendance. He’s a game interview subject, too, polite as can be and suggesting we find a quieter part of the building to hear each other better.

Every step Talbot takes, however, he’s mobbed. Fans cling to each of his appendages, begging for photo ops, and he obliges each with a smile. Every time it appears he’s home free, three more people grab him.

He apologizes, but I just shake my head.

“Don’t worry about it. Welcome to life on a Canadian team.”

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Rumor Roundup: Flyers, Sharks and Oilers buzz

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

It appears efforts by the Philadelphia Flyers to trade Vincent Lecavalier have once again proven futile. GM Ron Hextall told CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio his club remains “status quo” with the 35-year-old center, adding they intend to start the season with Lecavalier to see how it goes.

Last summer, there was interest in Lecavalier from the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, prompting speculation Hextall might find a taker this year. However, the combination of Lecavalier’s ongoing decline and his $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2017-18 makes him a tough sell, even to clubs which have the cap space to absorb. it.

Panaccio reports Hextall was hoping interest in Lecavalier might increase after the Flyers paid his $2-million signing bonus on July 1, but received no offers. Without freeing up cap space, Hextall could find it difficult promoting a promising defensemen next summer. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blueline buzz as free agency continues

Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets could add a veteran defenseman before the start of 2015-16. Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports sources claiming Jackets management have had discussions with free-agent blueliner Christian Ehrhoff, who’s coming off a one-year, $4-million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Portzline suggests a deal between the Blue Jackets and the 33-year-old Ehrhoff is possible, provided the latter remains on the free-agent market long enough to drive down his asking price. Despite missing 33 games last season due to head injuries, the puck-moving rearguard could help the Blue Jacket’s power play.

The Jackets only have around $3.6 million in cap space for 2015-16, which Portzline believes is why they’re willing to be patient in their dealings with Ehrhoff. He also notes several other defensemen, including Andrej Meszaros, Cody Franson and Marek Zidlicky are available, but hasn’t yet confirmed if the Jackets are interested in them. Read more

Glen Sather to be honored by Oilers in banner raising ceremony

Jared Clinton
Glen Sather

He didn’t score a single goal nor block a single shot during the dynastic days of the Oilers, but Glen Sather was the coach and architect of those Edmonton teams and the club is set to honor him for his contributions.

The Oilers announced Monday afternoon that this upcoming season, prior to their Dec. 11 tilt against the New York Rangers, Sather, 71, will be honored at a banner raising ceremony at Rexall Place. He will become the ninth Oiler – and second non-player – to have a banner hung in his honor by the club, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey, all of whom were members of the team during Sather’s days in Edmonton.

“The Oilers organization has been blessed with tremendous leaders, many of them in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Those great teams and players were a part of one of the great dynasties in hockey. But, I can tell you with certainty, none of that success would have happened without Glen Sather,” said Oilers vice-chairman Kevin Lowe in a statement. “Glen was a mentor, leader, protector and father figure for so many players that wore the Oilers sweater. He showed us what it meant to be champions both on and off the ice.

“It will be a very special day for our fans and organization when we celebrate Glen’s contribution and have him join our other legends in raising his banner to the rafters at Rexall Place.” Read more

The two most important Erie Otters ever are leaving this summer

Connor McDavid (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

Everything seemed to revolve around the Erie Otters this season, from top draft prospect Connor McDavid and OHL scoring champion Dylan Strome to the legal drama between the junior franchise and the Edmonton Oilers.

With the sale of the Otters to Canadian businessman James Waters, a brand-new chapter will begin in Pennsylvania and it will come with its own challenges. Specifically, who will not be returning to the franchise.

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NHL retiree Gilbert Brule signs one-year deal with KHL’s Zagreb

Gilbert Brule (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Gilbert Brule didn’t pan out how the Columbus Blue Jackets hoped when the club selected the winger sixth overall in 2005 and he announced his NHL retirement in 2014. But Brule suited up this past season in the KHL, and he’s set to play again next season.

After signing a one-year deal with Avtomobilist Yekaterinberg in 2013-14, Brule suited up for 44 games with the club. During his first season in the KHL, Brule notched 10 goals and 15 points, and his season has helped him land another deal in the primarily Russian league.

Croatian club Medvescak Zagreb have announced they have signed Brule to a deal for the 2015-16 season, but the club hopes he can be a top-six player.

“Brule will perfectly fit in our team and we believe it will be of great help,” said Medvescak’s GM Aaron Fox. Read more

The Scottish Wayne Gretzky finally hangs up his skates

Tony Hand (Richard and Yolanda Amor Allan)

By Dave Lambert

There isn’t much that keeps Tony Hand awake at night. Comparisons to Wayne Gretzky…he takes them in stride. Being widely acknowledged as his country’s greatest hockey talent…he doesn’t let it affect him. Even walking away from the 1980s dynasty Oilers as a teenager to return to his native Scotland isn’t something he loses any sleep over.

Now, at 47 years old, the man nicknamed the ‘Scottish Gretzky’ has called it a career after a staggering 34 seasons.

Before the points, the plaudits and the Oilers’ interest, Hand was just a hockey-mad kid, trekking six miles to a barn of a rink each day to get on the ice. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, he used the rink as an escape, spending hours on the ice and eventually saving up to buy his first stick – a sturdy $5 Koho, which Hand said “weighed a ton.”

His perseverance paid off, and he made his professional debut for his hometown Murrayfield Racers at the tender age of 14. Read more