Is Bobby Ryan On The Block?

November 29th, 2011 4 Comments

Rumors are swirling that Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray is looking to make changes in Anaheim.

Marred in a seven game losing streak, the Ducks are in grave danger of missing the playoffs, which, for a team that according to Capgeek.com carries a $60,681,263 payroll and has attendance issues, is simply out of the question.

Veteran forward Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks in scoring this season with eight goals and 14 assists. Teammates Corey Perry (ten goals, eight assists), Ryan Getzlaf (four goals, 12 assists), Cam Fowler (two goals, ten assists), Saku Koivu (four goals, seven assists) and Bobby Ryan (seven goals, four assists) round out the Ducks’ top-six scorers.

Combined, Selanne, Perry, Getzlaf, Fowler, Koivu and Ryan own a plus/minus rating of minus-42, with Getzlaf and Perry leading the way at minus-13 each.

While the questionable goaltending of Jonas Hiller (who is currently 5-10-4 with a 3.22 goals against average and a paltry .897 save percentage) has contributed to the Ducks struggles, the main reason for the teams’ lack of success has been the inability to establish an effective fore check and the teams’ penchant for giving up far too many goals.

The Ducks currently sit 25th overall in goals against at 3.17 per game, while averaging just 2.13 goals for, ranking them 29th in a 30 team League.

On the bright side, the Ducks own the eighth ranked penalty kill at 85.6 percent, but with the 18th ranked power play at 16.3 percent, special teams haven’t been a strong point either.

In an effort to boost their offense the Ducks picked up veteran forward Niklas Hagman off waivers from the Calgary Flames. Thus far, Hagman is pointless through five games and is not looking like a solid addition to an already slumping organization.

When you put it all together it is not hard to deduct that that Ducks are in need of change. That said, with so many players struggling and the organization seemingly in a re-tooling mode, which players stay and which should go?

At first glance, it is easy to suggest the Ducks move some of their veterans. Saku Koivu, Jason Blake, Francois Beauchemin and Teemu Selanne will not be here when the re-tooling is complete, so why keep them in the fold?

A combination of high salaries and no-movement clauses will likely prevent Murray from moving the likes of Selanne, Beauchemin and Koivu, while there is simply no market for a player like Jason Blake.

The situation is not unlike the Calgary Flames current state as they too have a number of veteran players on their roster that are in need of a change in scenery, but will be very tough to move given the salary and no-movement status that many of Flames’ general manager Jay Feaster’s undesirable players carry.

As the saying goes, “if you want something good, you have to give up something good”. This mentality has led to a number of rumors involving Ducks forward Bobby Ryan being dealt.

On the surface, at just 24-years of age, Ryan would seem like a player the Ducks would want to keep in the fold. That said, with a $5.1 million salary cap hit, Ryan may be the odd man out on a team that is likely carrying too much salary for ownerships liking.

Ryan entered the NHL in 2007-08, playing 23 games, registering five goals and five assists for a total of ten points.

Ryan followed up his first taste of NHL hockey with a 64-game effort in which he scored 31 goals, adding 26 assists for a total of 57 points. It was an impressive season for the youngster, as he quickly established himself as a top talent and goal scorer.

The 2009-10 season saw Ryan post 35 goals and 29 assists, good enough for 64 points in 81 games played. While not a point-a-game pace, Ryan’s 35 goals put him on the map with the games biggest scorers, leading many to believe he would hit the 40-goal mark in no time.

Last season Ryan hit the 30-goal mark for the third time of his career, notching 34 goals and 37 assists, for a career high 71 points through 82 games. As a three time 30-goal scorer, Ryan is widely viewed as one of the NHL’s best. Few players score 30 goals at the NHL level anymore; fewer still do it three seasons in a row.

This season, like many of his teammates, Ryan (who was just dropped to the Ducks’ third line) has struggled to find his game, registering 11 points in 23 games, including seven goals.

Hard to think any organization would want to part with a player of Ryan’s ilk, but if the rumors are true, there will be a long line of general managers that will want in on the Bobby Ryan talks.

One such general manager will be Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who, as the former GM of the Ducks, has a long standing relationship with Ryan.

Burke and Murray got together for a trade last season which sent Francois Beauchemin back home to the Ducks with the Maple Leafs receiving Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner in return.

Lupul has been amongst the Leagues best players this season, while Gardiner looks poised to be a top-four defenseman for years to come.

Did Burke pick Murray’s pocket? Perhaps, but there is nothing stopping the two GM’s from making another deal, as witnessed by Burke coming back to Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, whom many felt picked Burke’s pocket when Burke dealt two first round draft choices and a second round draft choice in return for Phil Kessel.

Like many NHL clubs, the Maple Leafs would be salivating at the prospect of adding Ryan to their lineup, but with little in the way of cap space, a trade for Ryan would have to see salary go the other way.

One forward the Ducks may have interest in is Nikolai Kulemin. At $2.35 million, Kulemin is an affordable second line player, who, given the right opportunity, could be a legitimate 30-goal scorer for years to come.

A restricted free agent at season’s end, Kulemin had a career-best 30 goal, 27 assist season in 2010-11, giving him 57 points in 82 games.

Like Ryan, Kulemin has struggled this season, registering two goals and 11 points through 24 games.

At 25-years old, Kulemin still has plenty of upside and with the likes of Perry and Getzlaf to play with, could reach that 30-goal level again.

Of course, having Kulemin in the deal would not give Burke enough cap space to add Ryan, but it would be a start and with Burke’s creativity, another move or two to help accommodate Ryan would be easy enough.

The Maple Leafs also have a number of prospects that could interest the Ducks, including the likes of former seventh overall pick Nazem Kadri and promising defenseman Jesse Blacker, who was very good in training camp and has been excellent at the AHL level, registering seven assists and a plus one rating through 18 games with the Toronto Marlies this season.

Could a package of Kulemin, Kadri and Blacker land the likes of Bobby Ryan? Is that package too much for a player that is struggling? Or, is that package too little for a player that has three 30-goal seasons to his name?

Truth be told, we may never know, as, if Ryan is available, countless NHL teams will be interested, each willing to give up a pile to land Ryan.

One thing is for certain, change is needed in Anaheim, whether or not that includes moving Ryan, time will tell.

Until next time,

Peace!

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Stephen Brotherston says:

    Leafs should be hesitant to tinker when things are working – finally – but this is definitely an interesting concept.

    Of course in a salary cap league – every $5m player had better be able to carry a Full Load or the Leafs are better off keeping the $2m player who is under-performing expectations – but not salary.

  2. leafs appear to be on the right track will c if its for real when facing the bruins .

  3. Mark Ritter says:

    Great points SB. I don’t have an answer for Kulemin’s struggles, but they are very real. Ryan is a proven three time 30-goal scorer, so I am pretty comfortable that he will be able to get back there in due time. Kulemin has a ton of talent, for sure, but is anyone convinced he is a “real” 30-goal man? Will he ever do that consistently?

  4. Mark Ritter says:

    Agreed Gerry—Bruins will be a very tough test for sure!

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