Although I've been these player recaps in order of lowest jersey number to highest, it's only fitting that the oldest and most seasoned veteran on this Kings team wears the highest jersey number with 94: Ryan Smyth.
A native of Banff, Alberta, Ryan Smyth just finished his 16th NHL season and his second with the Kings. With 47 points this past season, 2010-11 was Smyth's lowest point total in three seasons but he has proven just how realiable he is by playing in all 82 games for the Kings, who, not too long ago, were a team infamously notorious for the amount of man-games they lost to injury.
Smyth's 23 goals this past season was one better than his total in 2009-10 but he did finish with -1 rating this season as opposed to his +8 rating the previous campaign.
On a positive note, though, Smyth's playoff contributions were better this past spring where his two goals and three assists in six games were better than his two points in the six playoff games last spring against Vancouver.
Although it may not be fair to compare the 35-year-old to one Wayne Gretzky, Smyth's ability to crash the net and set up shop behind the net could be compared to #99 as Gretzky became known for the time he spent behind the net. Like Gretzky, though, Smyth has proven that his work in and around the net to be very effective. Of the 23 goals he scored this season, Smyth scored nine on the power play, which was huge for a team who struggled mightily in that department for much of the season. Smyth also logged an average of 18:02 of ice time per game and collected 195 shots for a shooting percentage of 11.8%. Again, they may not be Gretzky-like numbers but not bad at all for someone who's known to be in the twilight of his career.
Ryan Smyth accomplished a great feat this past season as he played in his 1,000th game in the National Hockey League. As a celebration, his teammates wore mullets in pre-game warmups as Smyth was notorious for his mullet, especially during his many seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, where he began his professional career.
Whether he lit up the scoreboard or not, Ryan Smyth has proven in Los Angeles like he did in Edmonton or elsewhere that he is an exceptional leader on the ice and just as exceptional in the lockerroom. Smyth is entering the final year of his contract next season but it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Kings will do with him. Retaining his services may be a good bet but first, we'll have to see how 2011-12 fares for the veteran and for the rest of his team, for that matter.
He may be the senior of the group but as far as I'm concerned, Ryan Smyth still does have a lot left in the tank. Let's just hope the front office of the Los Angeles Kings feels the same way.