A few weeks ago, we learned that despite Bobby Ryan’s no-move clause, he is eligible to be exposed in the 2017 Las Vegas expansion draft. This news was a bit of a bombshell to Senators fans, as this whole time people thought that he would be untouchable due to his contract.
However, because of the odd way in which his NMC is structured (he cannot be sent to the minors), that complicates things. This bit of news has never been officially discussed on this site, so I thought now would be a good time to get a discussion going since it was brought up again during the game vs. Anaheim last Sunday.
I know this is the "Weekly Question," but I’m not going to hide my thoughts on this. At the same time, I do want to hear what people think, because that’s the whole point of this segment.
To me, it would be a smart move to expose Ryan. It’s not as cut and dry as ‘if you’re good, you should be protected.’ The reality is that contracts and other players need to be taken into consideration as well.
Ryan is a fine player, but I think a lot of fans are starting to realize his limitations. He is a goal scorer that relies so much on his hands and shot that when he isn’t producing points, he’s almost useless. I view him as a similar player to Dany Heatley in that sense because he can be dangerous, but he is probably going to drop off at a younger age than most.
Of course, Ryan is playing with an injured hand right now so it is hard to completely evaluate his game. He’s had his fair share of nagging injuries, so there are some reasons why he might not have played so well during certain stretches of any given season. However, even if he ends up getting healthy and scores his usual 55-60 points, I would still expose him.
That is solid production, but his contract is simply too much money and for too long for a small market team. Snipers tend to not age gracefully, so that does not help his case.
We can blame the injury for his poor production this season, but that’s not the only factor. He’s on pace for 31 points, and if he ends up with anything below around 50, I don’t know how you can say he is worth that contract moving forward.
If he was making $4 million (which is unrealistic of course), then I would protect him without a doubt. But $7.25 million is a lot for Ottawa, and they could use that money for two or even three players to replace Ryan.
The good thing is that by exposing Ryan, Ottawa’s in a win-win situation. If Vegas picks him, then they rid themselves of a bad contract. If they don’t, then Ottawa is still able to protect an extra forward like Curtis Lazar or Zack Smith. It’s not as if Lazar or Smith would be huge losses at this point, but I don’t see the downside in exposing Ryan.
Trading him before the deadline could be an option, although it’s unlikely Ottawa would do that if they are still in the playoff hunt.
Vegas probably won’t select Ryan anyway, although if they need to get to the cap floor then perhaps they’ll think about it. And even if Vegas does take him, I would not mind at all because Ottawa needs to free up some money.
It is not as if Ryan is a horrible player at this point in his career, because he still provides some value to the team. In fact, he’ll probably go through a stretch this year where he looks fantastic again. But he has never been worth $7.25 million in any season in Ottawa, and it’s extremely doubtful he will be in the next five seasons after 2016-17.
His shots per game rate this year is at 1.48, which is a career low, and much lower than his career average of 2.65. To me, I just cannot see his contract being worth it, plus the Senators can find a way to replace his production through two or three cheaper replacements via trade, free agency, or prospects.
Plus, exposing him does not guarantee that he will be gone either. The only downside is that Ottawa would need a 2nd line right-winger if he leaves, but at least they would have lots more to spend.
The really interesting thing about all of this is that Bruce Garrioch believes Ryan will end up being exposed:
Garrioch thinks they'll expose Ryan...One can dream— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) December 11, 2016
He’s someone who’s definitely in the loop, so I would trust what he says. It seems like saving all of that money must be an enticing option for Eugene Melnyk.
Having said all of this and making my case, I’m still curious to see what the readers think. Let me know in the poll and in the comments!