Nineteen-year NHL veteran Ryan Smyth of the Edmonton Oilers will confirm his retirement from the NHL in a press conference Friday afternoon.
The Oilers play host to the Vancouver Canucks in their season finale Saturday night.
Smyth, an Alberta native, was the No. 6 pick in the 1994 NHL Draft by the Oilers and played 15 seasons over two stints with Edmonton.
“I’m lucky that I’m able to play with him [Saturday],” Oilers right wing David Perron said. “Watching him growing up, he was one of my favorite players. The way he plays the game with grit, he was always around the net, being greasy and scoring those goals.
“He’s a really special player and a special person that I got to know pretty well this year, we became pretty close and it’s going to be tough to see him go.”
Smyth scored a career-high 39 goals during the 1996-97 season and a career-high 70 points in 2000-01. He had 36 goals and 66 points in 2005-06, then added seven goals and 16 points as the Oilers reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The following year, Smyth was acquired by the New York Islanders at the NHL Trade Deadline. He went on to play two seasons each for the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings before rejoining the Oilers for the 2011-12 season.
“I’m grateful I had a chance to play with him,” Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. “He’s a great player, a great teammate and a guy who really loves the game.”
Smyth was also renowned on the international stage and earned the nickname “Captain Canada” mainly for his exploits at the IIHF World Championship, where he served as captain a team-record six times. Smyth also played for Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championship, the World Cup of Hockey and the Olympics, winning gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Smyth has 10 goals and 23 points in 71 games this season. In 1,269 career regular-season games, he has 386 goals and 842 points. He added 28 goals and 59 points in 93 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“(Smyth) embodies what Edmonton fans like in a hockey player,” goaltender Ben Scrivens said. “Go to the hard areas, score with your face if you have to.”