Ottawa Senators Tradebait: Bobby Ryan

The series continues with a look at BFR.

Bobby Ryan was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on July 5th, 2013. Since then, the 31 year-old has suited up in 400 games for the Senators, tallying 109 goals and 148 assists for 257 points. Though he hasn’t put up the numbers he did in Anaheim, Ryan’s most impressive contributions came in the 2017 playoffs, where he scored six goals, including two in overtime, and nine assists for 15 points in Ottawa’s 19-game run to the Eastern Conference Final. He is currently in the fourth year of a seven-year, $7.25M deal. Though he’s having a resurgent season, and providing some much-needed offence of late, this is just not a contract Ottawa can justify paying, especially with young talent waiting in the wings.

It seems that a Ryan trade will be next to impossible. That contract is a big ‘yikes’ for most teams in the league, and it appears Ottawa’s best- and perhaps only -chance to move him was in a package deal with Erik Karlsson. Even if the Senators were able to find a suitor for BFR, they’d almost certainly have to retain salary, as teams aren’t likely to pay $7.25M to a guy that hasn’t hit the 50 point mark in three years. Ryan’s contract also contains a modified No Movement Clause, so any hypothetical trade would also have to meet his approval. That said, he’s on pace to have his best season since 2016, and it’s possible that teams could look to supplement their secondary scoring with Bobby Ryan.

So what could Ottawa get in return? Assuming they’d eat about half of Ryan’s salary (about $3.63M), it would drastically expand the market away from teams with massive amounts of cap space. If Jeff Skinner, who scored 49 points last year, fetched Cliff Pu and a 2nd, 3rd, and 6th round pick last season, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Ottawa to get a few picks for Ryan. They would have to retain salary to make it happen, but a 2nd and a 3rd or a 3rd and a 4th, seems like a return that Ottawa could see in a trade for Bobby. If players like Victor Rask, with 7 points in 29 games, can get someone like Nino Niedereitter in return, I see no reason why the Senators can’t get a few good picks for Ryan, provided they retain salary, of course.

The obvious issue here is Ryan’s contract. I can’t imagine Eugene Melnyk would be thrilled with the prospect of paying half of Ryan’s salary for the next three years, and no team worth their salt would pay Ryan’s full contract at his current levels of production. There’s also his injury history, as Bobby Ryan has sat out a combined 60 games over the past four seasons,  missing time due to a sports hernia and a string of hand injuries. At 31 years-old, a track record like that is sure to make teams nervous.

Any interest for him would probably come from a playoff team, and one likely candidate could be the Vegas Golden Knights. They showed interest in Ryan as part of an Erik Karlsson deal last year, and Ryan’s recent offensive output could be tantalizing for a team that doesn’t score many goals while trying to compete in the West. There also seems to be decent chance that Wayne Simmonds gets traded, and any team that decides he’s too pricy or misses out on him could look to Ottawa for another RW that has more points.

If Ryan keeps up his current pace, I could see the Sens getting a 2nd and a 3rd or later in a hypothetical trade. He’s having his best season in years, and putting up a decent amount of points on the worst team in hockey, so a deal in which Ottawa retains salary could look good for a lot of teams. Secondary scoring is crucial going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and as of right now, Bobby Ryan appears to be a solid Bottom-9 option down the stretch. He needs to stay healthy, and keep up this pace, but if the Sens are willing to eat a chunk of his salary, it’s possible that they could end up moving Ryan.

Is it likely? Probably not, but if Peter Chiarelli was willing to trade Taylor Hall for Cody Ceci 1for1, anything is possible.

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