Are These Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors Real?

By Alexander Monaghan

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images North America

Apparently Anaheim Ducks left wing Bobby Ryan is on the trading block.

First reported by Sportnet’s Nick Kypreos, via Twitter, last night, there can’t be a single team that does not want a scoring winger of his pedigree — if it was not for Sidney Crosby, Ryan would have been the first overall pick in 2005. The Cherry Hill, New Jersey native has been incredibly disappointing through 23 games, scoring only seven goals and 11 points. Those totals project for 25 goals and 39 points, which would be the lowest totals of his young career and would guarantee the Ducks on the outside of the playoff picture.

Yesterday, Ryan was moved to offensive mecca known as the third line where he will flank 1-career goal scorer Ben Maxwell and an over-the-hill Niklas Hagman. Head coach Randy Carlyle phrased the move as an attempt to stimulate offense from the bottom lines. Considering the currently configured bottom lines have combined for all of three goals, it makes sense. Yet it makes you wonder, why only Ryan? Why was he the only player shifted around when the second line stays completely in tact and Ryan Getzlaf remains glued to Corey Perry.

The reason is simple: Ryan needs a wake-up call. He’s a stalled engine in need of a boost and this line change was supposed to fix that. Furthermore, trade rumors will do even more to get his motor running.

As a good teammate you will hear him go on about his new linemates, citing Hagman’s deceptive shot and Maxwell’s underrated playmaking ability but you have to think not playing with the now ‘Big-2′ is eating him up. As Eric Stephens of The OC Register Ducks Blog noted, Ryan “put on his best face” while giving his opinion on the switch. He can’t be happy with his play, his situation or the standing of the entire team.

So what is GM Bob Murray to do with his struggling winger? Is he supposed to package him for some much-needed offensive and defensive depth? Well, Bob, that would be ill-advised.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images North America

While every team will want to enter the Bobby Ryan Sweepstakes, they will have to overpay the Ducks in order for Murray to get good value for him. Look no farther than what the Atlanta Thrashers got for Ilya Kovalchuk — a depth defenseman, KHL forward, checking-line prospect and a late first rounder. You could argue that many of those pieces were unproven. Then the Dion Phaneuf megadeal is more to your liking, which translates to an overpaid fourth liner, a waiver-wire quality winger, checking-line forward and a serviceable offensive defenseman.

Simply put, you rarely get what you need for a superstar. While the two offseason blockbusters in Philadelphia seem to be doing relatively well, the Flyers were able to trade their two young studs at a time where teams are retooling and exploring other options– their individual values were at their peak, not the valley that Ryan currently resides in. There are probably only a handful of teams willing to retool on-the-fly despite the high-potential they could add.

Nevertheless, we’ve seen some solid proposals bandied about. Jeremy Gover of Cell Block 303 took a stab at Ryan’s value recently in a proposal that likely still does not suit the Ducks’ needs in full.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the team is looking for a second line center, top four defender, a top prospect and a draft pick. Their projected cap space is just over $3.6 million which would, in theory, allow them to take on some salary if they weren’t already at their budget. Elliotte Friedman notes in his 30 Thoughts that they are indeed ‘stretched to the limit‘.

Refining that original proposal, the team is looking for something like Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Kevin Klein and a first rounder. While that would satisfy Murray’s asking price and add some depth to the club, it would also deplete the team’s top-level skill without really replacing Ryan. Not to mention, the Preds would be trading three NHL bodies for one that may or may not work out in their sweater.

Such is the case for most NHL teams who likely wouldn’t risk most of their depth and some young, valuable assets for a player who seems lost right now.

The New York Rangers are another team that is kicking the tires on Ryan, as first reported by Larry Brooks of the NY Post, via Twitter. Brooksie would later hedge his statement and describe the talks as preliminary with Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh declared untouchable. From there, that leaves Brandon Dubinsky and a list of b-level prospects that likely don’t seal the deal. Not to mention, Ryan and Dubinsky aren’t struggling that much to necessitate a change of scenery, hockey trade.

We could list off another 27 teams who fit the same bill, the perfect deal simply is not out there. Do the Ducks take worse than his market value or just try to gut through it?

Kent Wilson of Puck Prospectus did an entire article on Bobby Ryan’s value with and without Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry determining that Ryan’s numbers are better because of the duo and they are better because of him. In addition, Carlyle tended to play Ryan more in the offensive zone to help his chances of succeeding. This analysis was done last season, when the Big 3 was working on all cylinders. In the fourth year of their tenure, they simply are not working.

These things happen. Big lines work and then they don’t. Ask Dany Heatley on the CASH line; ask Heatley on the Burger Line. The hottest line one year is figured out the next. By my count, these guys have had three excellent seasons together which forced Murray to commit just under a quarter of his salary cap to three players.

What happens when the three aren’t producing? You split them up, via line change or via trade. That trade simply does not look like it’s there making the rumors and shuffling motivation for the rest of the team to improve. If they can’t they have two options: rebuild or retool like the Tampa Bay Lightning did under GM Steve Yzerman — a task much easier said than done.