Ryan Smyth would prefer to play on the wing. But if it means being in the lineup on a regular basis, the Edmonton Oilers forward will happily take a place at centre. For now, and possibly until the end of the season, that’s where Smyth will play. “I’ve been put in this situation last year for pretty much the whole year,” Smyth said prior to facing the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. “They went back to that this year. I started out where I would like to be, but I’m at least in the lineup and playing and trying to enjoy it.” Having made a career out of greasing his way out of traffic along the boards and paying the price in front of the net, Smyth admitted being slotted in the middle does take away from his strengths. Yet there are some positives. “It grows the other side of my game, where you can handle the puck a little bit more, read the play a little bit better and try to get yourself in the supportive role in that centre position,” Smyth said. “You have to learn to dish the puck outside, because you’re not getting from one end to another in the middle. You have to make plays.” Having been around the game a long time, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins trusts Smyth to fill in admirably at the position where the Oilers are thin.
Oilers Ryan Smyth making the most of his shift to the middle of the ice
Edmonton Sun | Feb 28