The last time the Ottawa Senators acquired a player as prolific as Bobby Ryan was before the 2005-2006 season in Dany Heatley. Heatley would find instant chemistry with Jason Spezza, recording a point in his first 22 games as a Senator. He would also register back to back 50 goal seasons and become one of the catalysts that lead the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006-07. Even in his last miserable season in Ottawa he managed to record 39 goals. Obviously expectations were going to be high on Bobby Ryan.
Ryan comes to Ottawa as a four time 30 goal scorer. His primary linemates for those four seasons (2008-2012) in Anaheim were Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, both stars in their own rights. However, last season his production slipped despite playing with similar teammates. Pro-rated over an 82 game season, he would have only notched 19 goals. This would be his lowest since 2007-08, his rookie year. It's almost like this is a reverse Heatley, where in this case we're the Sharks who will watch as Ryan becomes a shadow of his former self.
Was there a reason that Anaheim targeted Ryan as the one to trade? Taking a look at his Relative Corsi (his Corsi relative to the rest of his team) over the past five seasons, there is a noticeable downwards trend.
- 2008-09: 16.5
- 2009-10: 16.8
- 2010-11: 14.2
- 2011-12: 5.9
- 2012-13: 4.5
Could this be the reason they were so willing to part with one of their most reliable goal scorers? After all, advanced stats never lie! Especially with this being Teemu Selanne's last season, you would have thought that Anaheim would have wanted to keep Ryan around. Even more puzzling is the fact that Ryan is only 26 years old and thus entering what are usually a player's prime years. Why would Anaheim be willing to dump him at this point in time?
Regardless of Anaheim's intentions, Ottawa couldn't have been more excited about the news of the acquisition. With Daniel Alfredsson leaving the team, Ottawa needed another star player to help carry the team. The fact Ryan is a noted goal scorer was even better. If Jason Spezza could make Milan Michalek a 30 goal scorer, what could he make Ryan? 40 goals? Maybe even 50?
Fans in Ottawa couldn't wait for the preseason to watch Ottawa's top line featuring their new captain surrounded by two 30 goal scorers. Unfortunately, the line never seemed to click during the preseason. Ryan did notch two goals, but they were more individual efforts on his part. Fans didn't seem worried. After all it was preseason and Ryan was new to the team. The line likely needed a few more practices to develop some chemistry.
Fast forward to the regular season and the top line hasn't produced as expected. Through two games, Ryan has a single assist to show. Worse is the fact that the top line's chemistry looks arguably worse than they did in the preseason. Spezza's game doesn't appear to mesh well with Ryan's. This could be attributed to the fact that Ryan played in the much more physical Western Conference where his large frame was advantageous. However, in the Eastern Conference his lack of skating ability appears to be holding him back. He always seems to be one step behind the play. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. Expectations were for him and Spezza to click like Spezza had with Heatley. Right now it doesn't look like that's ever going to happen. Maybe the Sens would have been better off promoting Mark Stone who looked great with Spezza during his playoff game against the Rangers.
Even more worrisome for Sens fans should be the fact that Ryan is a free agent in just two years time. Will he re-sign in Ottawa? He's said all the right things on social media and in interviews, noting that he sees no reason it won't happen. Yet, there's an interesting section from his interview with Sportsnet:
He says that he likes to go to his place in Idaho because he’s "anonymous" there and "never recognized" and can relax with his girlfriend with the mountains in the background. A desire just to blend in and not be conspicuous.
Ryan hasn't been in Ottawa long enough to know how crazy hockey is in Canada. He filmed a segment during the summer in Ottawa where very few people recognized him. However, that will change as the season progresses. Soon everyone will recognize his face and he won't be able to walk around Ottawa without being greeted everywhere he goes by its fanbase. He'll also soon learn how negative the Ottawa media can be if he continues with his current play. Will this potentially contribute to him wanting out and perhaps returning to his much more anonymous like in Anaheim? After all, this is what happened with Joe Corvo.
Perhaps the biggest reason this trade may haunt Ottawa is what they gave up. They no longer have a first round pick in the upcoming draft, and for a team like Ottawa which has consistently drafted well under Bryan Murray that may be costly. In addition, they lost top prospect Stefan Noesen who was so highly regarded by the franchise that he was one of the few rookies invited to the training camp last season after the lockout. The biggest loss may be Jakob Silfverberg, the recent MVP of the SEL. He had a solid season by all accounts last year for the Senators, but everyone knows the sky is the limit for him. He definitely has the potential to be a 30 goal scorer himself, if not a 50 goal scorer. Anaheim players have raved about his skill and he has shown it, getting two goals and an assist in his first three games as a Duck, putting him on pace for an 82 point season! Only time will tell, but right now this trade looks like it could be one that the Senators wish they could undo.
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