Even though the Stanley Cup Finals are still going on, eliminated teams have been very busy thanks to what could be a condensed offseason. That leads to signings, trades, and even buyouts happening much earlier than in previous years. The Buyout window opened Friday so for the next week, we are going to see players put on waivers with the purpose of being bought out.
One player that the buyout process has already begun for is Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan. It was a surprise around the hockey world when the Ottawa Senators placed him on waivers with an intention of a buyout Friday morning. Now, he will become a UFA and open to the market. Could he help the Avalanche?
Bobby Ryan Bounce Back
First, let’s take a look at what kind of player Ryan is these days. He is not the high-offense scorer that he used to be when he was young. However, he could be very useful at the correct price. Ryan is fresh off winning a Masterton Trophy last season after overcoming his troubles with alcohol abuse. He is someone that anyone in Ottawa will tell you is a great leader, both on and off the ice.
His raw point totals don’t scream amazing, with 83 points in his last 164 games over the past three seasons. However, at 5v5 he can still score at roughly a third-line rate. Over the past three seasons, Ryan ranks 159th out of 376 forwards in P/60 at 5v5. That puts him around the scoring clip of a sixth forward on a team. Ryan is also a guy who, because of his scoring talent, can play on a PP2 and be a legitimate threat teams have to worry about. Obviously he isn’t as dangerous as the big guys Colorado has upfront, but having a guy who can score goals on PP2 is important.
At this stage in his career, he can’t drive his own line to success. However, when you put him with some skilled players who can move, he finds his way on the scoresheet. He is a reliable middle-six guy who can bounce around a lineup. He will produce on a third line with ease. But, if you need him on the second line for a few games, he will fit pretty easily up there too, as long as he’s not driving the line.
The question becomes, what is he looking for and how much is he looking for? It seems reasonable enough to assume that Ryan wants another sniff at post-season success. He was a big part of the Senators run in 2016-17, but hasn’t come close to returning since then. Ryan’s buyout will see him get paid 1.83 million dollars over the next four years, plus the four million they owe him in signing bonuses.
While Ryan likely won’t want to sign for league minimum, it is expected that is next deal will be a big pay-cut off of the 7.25 average value his last deal paid him. It’s possible that he looks for a one-year deal as a sort of prove it deal. This is the case that would favor the Avs if they want him. They have plenty of cap space this summer, and can afford to overpay UFA’s slightly, as long as it’s for one year. If other teams are only willing to give him $1.5m for one year, the Avs could up it to $2.5m for that one year and still be in reasonable shape.
However, it is also possible that he wants term and stability on his contract. In this case, the Avalanche should be careful. You don’t want to sign any depth forwards for too long, especially not in their 30’s. That being said, a deal around two or three years that sees a payout of $2.5-$3 million a year could still be reasonable.
Do the Avs Need Him?
The next question becomes, do the Avalanche need him? They have enough depth as it is, but more never hurts. Currently, they have eight forwards under contract with another four RFA’s that may get signed. Vladislav Kamenev seems like the odd man out, as he is headed to the KHL.
So, without any other additions to the forward group, that leaves them with 11 forwards and three other UFA’s in Matt Nieto, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Colin Wilson. The issue with signing Ryan is that the Avs already have a bunch of players that can play the middle-six like he can. However, he does bring some more scoring punch than other options on the team, which is something the Avs need.
If you can get him on a reasonable contract, it’s quite possible that he becomes more useful than one of their UFA’s were this past season. Not that they were bad per say, but having some more scoring punch in the bottom-six would have gone a long way.
Big Fish Hunting?
The last argument that could be made against trying to bring Ryan in is that the Avalanche should be looking for a bigger named forward. Their top line is one of the best in the league, and Nazem Kadri helped the second line tremendously this year. However, they are still missing maybe one more piece upfront.
If the team wants more scoring, maybe they look at bringing in a name like Evgeni Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, or even Taylor Hall if the price is right. This would shore up the top-six. If this is the case, maybe the Avs want some more defensively responsible players playing lower down the lineup. In which case you could make an argument that Bobby Ryan shouldn’t be there.
Overall, it will likely come down to what the Avalanche plan on doing big picture, but also what Ryan wants this year. If he is interested in a one-year deal where he can get back on his feet, there is no doubt Colorado should be a front-runner for that.
Especially if it means that he is coming relatively cheap due to still being paid from the buyout. It feels like a relatively low risk signing, and if it is one-year and doesn’t work out, the Avs can just move on.
It will obviously be up to Ryan too. Maybe he doesn’t feel Colorado is the right fit. However, if he wants to try and take a run deep into the postseason, a good bet is the Colorado Avalanche.