From labouring on the fourth line to helping anchor the first? It seems odd that a 37-year-old player got better with time but the Ryan Smyth we’re watching in training camp doesn’t look at all like the player who struggled to keep up last year.

A lot of people wondered if there would be room for Smyth on a team vowing to be better than it was last year but there he is not at all out of place on the left side with Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky.

“It’s worked out well so far and we want to continue that” said the Oilers veteran who looks like his off-season workout schedule is agreeing with him. “I’ve felt good. I had one conversation with the coach came in with a clean slate and I’m enjoying myself. I’m a guy who competes and I want to earn my spot.”

And so far he has.

What’s the difference between this year and last? Smyth isn’t blaming the lack of a real training camp or pre-season because of the lockout but admits it wasn’t his best work. He managed just two goals in 47 games and didn’t play 48 because he was a healthy scratch as an Oiler for the first time since his teenage days here.