Most Edmonton fans considered Smyth to be the Oilers' heart and soul but Lowe, watching playoff chances fade and unable to re-sign Smyth, pulled the trigger. The trade occurred just hours before the Oilers were to honour former captain Mark Messier by retiring his No. 11 sweater before a home game. Smyth had approached the day realistically, noting after stripping off his pads following the morning skate that stars such as Messier and Wayne Gretzky had been traded by the Oilers.
"Anybody can get traded," he said.
The Oilers got centre Robert Nilsson, who has spent most of the season with the Islanders' AHL farm team and who is the son of former NHL star Kent Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, a centre with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit, and a first-round 2007 draft pick.
Smyth can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and he could sign with any team, including Edmonton, afterwards.
The trade overshadowed deals that saw Todd Bertuzzi go to the Detroit Red Wings, Bill Guerin to the San Jose Sharks and Gary Roberts and George Laraque to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bertuzzi was traded to Detroit by Florida for a conditional draft pick - as high as a first-rounder if he helps the Red Wings go deep into the playoffs and re-signs with them - and centre Shawn Matthias of the OHL's Belleville Bulls.
Bertuzzi is trying to work himself into playing condition after recovering from back surgery. An all-star four years ago, the 32-year-old right-winger's stock has plummeted since his suspension when he was with Vancouver for his attack on Colorado's Steve Moore.
Guerin and Joe Thornton clicked as teammates in Boston five years ago, when Guerin enjoyed a 41-goal season, and now they'll skate together in San Jose. GM Doug Wilson got him from St. Louis for a conditional 2007 entry draft pick, little-used forward Ville Nieminen and University of Minnesota leading scorer Jay Barriball.
The Sharks now have the option of forming a line with Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Guerin, who had 28 goals for the Blues this season. The 36-year-old American winger joins his sixth NHL team.
"Wherever (coach) Ron Wilson puts me, that'll be great," said Guerin. "We'll make it work."
The Sharks traded Scott Parker to Colorado to clear a lineup spot.
Guerin will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"Billy has been a true professional on and off the ice this season and we felt it was in the best interest for him and the Blues to trade him to a playoff contender," said Blues president John Davidson.
Anaheim GM Brian Burke didn't make a big splash to counter San Jose's acquisition of Guerin or Nashville's trade last week for Peter Forsberg. He barely caused a ripple in the trade waters by adding journeyman forward Brad May from Colorado for minor-league goalie Michael Wall.
Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero, in getting Roberts from Florida, inserts a gritty crease-crasher up front who'll be a valuable playoff performer. Roberts, 40, another veteran headed for unrestricted free agency, has scored 13 goals in this his 19th NHL season.
"Ray really did a great job to get him here," said Penguins forward Mark Recchi.
The Panthers got for Roberts the six-foot-four American defenceman Noah Welch, a second-year pro out of Harvard who has split his season between the NHL and AHL.
Shero got Laraque for second-year pro Daniel Carcillo, who is playing in the AHL, and a low-round draft pick. Opponents who have taken physical liberties with young stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal will have Laraque, a six-foot-three native of Montreal, to answer to now.
"I'm up for that challenge," says Laraque, who comes full circle with coach Michel Therrien. The two won the Memorial Cup in 1996 with the Granby Predateurs.
Shero wasn't done. He picked up defenceman Joel Kwiatkowski from Florida for a low-round draft pick, he traded Dominic Moore to the Minnesota Wild for a third-round draft pick, and he got a goalie for his farm team, Nolan Schaefer, from San Jose for a seventh-round pick.
Ottawa acquired left-winger Oleg Saprykin and a seventh-round 2007 draft pick from Phoenix for a second-round 2008 pick. Saprykin has scored 13 goals this season.
Toronto reacquired Yanic Perreault, who they let walk away in 2001, from Phoenix for defenceman Brendan Bell. Perreault has 19 goals this season.
Buffalo GM Darcy Regier made several moves.
He landed right-winger Dainius Zubrus and minor-league defenceman Timo Helbling from Washington to shore up an injury-depleted roster, sending injured forward Jiri Novotny and a first-round draft pick to the Capitals. Zubrus has scored 20 goals this season.
Regier also acquired defenceman Mikko Lehtonen from Nashville for his team's fourth-round 2006 draft pick, and he traded goaltender Martin Biron to Philadelphia for a second-round 2007 draft pick. To take Biron's place behind Ryan Miller, the Sabres acquired Ty Conklin from Columbus for a fifth-round 2007 pick. Biron was drafted by Buffalo in 1995 and was the longest-tenured Sabre. He will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"He would have been on our shopping list this summer," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "Trading for him gives us a chance to get a little more familiar with him and he can get a little more familiar with our team and, hopefully, see a positive direction here and want to stay here."
Montreal claimed Michael Leighton when the Flyers put him on waivers to make room for Biron.
Columbus claimed goaltender Brian Boucher off waivers from Chicago to take Conklin's spot.
The New York Rangers traded Aaron Ward to Boston for Paul Mara in a swap of defencemen, and sent Pascal Dupuis to Atlanta for a prospect.
Atlanta claimed forward Jason Krog off waivers from the Rangers.