Weekly Question: Bobby Ryan’s Role Next Season

Bobby Ryan is back, but will he be able to find success on the ice next season?

We’re all familiar with the story by now.

After spending time as a healthy scratch on a bottom-feeder NHL team for the first time in his career, Bobby Ryan entered the NHLPA Player Assistance Program, to receive help for what we later learned to be alcohol abuse. Ryan, after 100 days of sobriety, returned to a welcoming crowd at the CTC (after a solid first game back in Nashville) and gave the fans the performance of his life against the Vancouver Canucks.

Ryan finished the season (not really but you get it) with 5 goals and 3 assists in 24 games. It’s great to see him make a triumphant return to hockey and even more so to see him return to a good place in life, but his play overall across his 7-year $7.25M/year deal has been mostly underwhelming, save for a single season of top-six production in 2015-16 and a great playoff run in 2017. In the last four seasons, he’s tallied 25, 33, 41 and 24 points respectively.

Not to mention, he’s 33 years old and still has two years left on that massive deal signed back in 2014. Seeing as how Ottawa obviously has one of the best salary cap situations in the NHL, the team will have zero issue keeping him on the books for the next two seasons. The (weekly) question is, what will be his role until that happens?

By all accounts, Ryan seems to be healthy, though his injury history is still a cause for concern. Although he seldom found the scoresheet down the stretch after his big night in Vancouver, he looked energized and engaged, and was noticeable in most games. Next season, he projects as the team’s third-line right winger behind Connor Brown and Drake Batherson, but multiple prospects, including some yet to be drafted, could make the jump and force their way into the lineup.

What it really comes down to is, can Bobby Ryan still contribute in a third-line role in the NHL? Could he potentially have a Dustin Brown-esque career renaissance and put together a dominant campaign reminiscent of his early years with the Senators? Or will he fizzle out and be forced to settle into Mikkel Boedker’s role as a frequent injury replacement player?

Be sure to let us know, and stay safe!

How many points (82-game pace) will Bobby Ryan score in the 2020-21 season?

Fewer than 2026

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