Let me preface this by saying that this post will not be about whether or not Bobby Ryan is a good player. On the contrary, this post assumes that Bobby is a very good player and is going to get paid. I know I'm the resident Bobby hater, but I did my best to take an unbiased approach to this; however, I believe there's no such thing as a purely unbiased approach. I focused all of my arguments on things that have almost nothing to do with him.
Unless you were living under a rock a last week, you remember when there was huge buzz that the Ducks might move Bobby Ryan. Instead, they fired Randy Carlyle in an attempt to get the season going in the right direction. I've said before that I think the Ducks made the right decision, primarily because Murray didn't seem interested in getting the players Randy needed. The argument has been made that Murray has been hampered by an internal cap, and therefore has been unable to build a truly consistent and competitive team. I think this is exactly the reason the Ducks need to consider the possibility that they can't hold on to Bobby Ryan.
The reason I'm writing this post is because I think a lot of the discourse about whether or not to move Bobby has focused more on his merits as a player. I'm beginning to think that's only part of the problem. I have three main points that I will go through in order of importance: Affording the player, Bobby's value, and helping the team this year.
Where's The Money?
The first thing to consider is whether or not the Ducks are going to be able to afford Bobby Ryan. On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. Jason Blake, Saku Koivu, and Teemu Selanne come off the books this summer. Francois Beauchemin will probably come back for less money. Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman only have one more season a piece on their deals. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are going to get raises. Let's make a conservative estimate of one million. When Bobby goes UFA after this contract, let's say he get a one million raise too. That's 3 million towards an internal budget that may or may not go much higher than the 56 million it's already at. Three million is a huge hit for a team on an internal budget. That's like giving up a veteran defenseman for nothing.The Ducks would be devoting almost 1/3 of their payroll to one line of players.
Of course, that's not the real problem. When the twins go UFA, Cam Fowler will go RFA. That kid is going to get a raise, especially if Boudreau turns him into a West Coast Mike Green. Luca Sbisa's current contract is up the same year that Bobby Ryan will be going UFA, and he'll be getting a raise too. Let's not forget that Justin Schultz is tearing it up at Wisconsin this year, leading the Badgers in points as a defenseman. If he comes out this year, his entry level deal will be done the same year that Bobby Ryan goes UFA. I hope we are starting to see this trend. Schultz, Sbisa and Fowler could be a terrifying core if you can add a couple of physical defenseman to that mix, maybe a Beauchemin at 2.5M and someone else. Unfortunately, those three are probably going to cost you in the neighborhood of 12 million, if we're lucky. That means, if the Ducks sign Bobby at that 1 million raise, they'll be spending about 30 million on a top line, and 3 defenseman. Mix in a goalie at 4 million and the Ducks have almost 2/3 of their cap gone, with only 1/3 of their roster filled. I'm not saying you don't have to pay for talent because you do. I'm just not sure the Ducks can afford it
Emerson Etem will come out of Juniors next year, and will likely make the roster. That means he gets a new contract the same summer Bobby goes UFA. If he explodes, it could be a substantial raise. Devante Smith-Pelly will get a new contract the summer before Bobby gets his new deal, and while I'm sure it won't be substantial, it will be more money than he's making now, closer to the 1.75-2M range. Peter Holland will be getting a new deal the same summer that DSP gets one and the Ducks better hope it's not a big one. Let's say that line costs about 8 million, although, I'm hoping Etem - I can't believe I'm saying this - copies Bobby Ryan with three 30-goal seasons to start, driving that total up. That leaves about 14 million for the bottom 6, the last 3 defenders, a back up goalie, the 7th defenseman and the 2 extra forwards. That's certainly doable, but we've already seen what a lack of depth has done to the Ducks. Defensive forwards can sometimes be pricey. I haven't even talked about what's going to happen to Kyle Palmieri who is starting to light up the AHL. Moving Bobby will give the Ducks more financial freedom, or at least, allow them to spend his money on two good players instead of one very good player. Sometimes depth is more important.
I don't think Bobby's value is going to get much higher than it is now. He has a good stat line, good size, and a decent contract that has him locked up for the next three seasons after this one. This will be the only time I talk about Bobby's play. He's been good, but not great. He has a very solid stat line that's very appealing. He isn't Sidney Crosby. He hasn't looked like a once in a generation player. He's looked like a slightly streaky scorer who will get you 30 goals every year, and 70 points. That's solid. It's not amazing; it's solid.
What makes Bobby such a hot commodity is that no one knows if he'll take the next step. There's a chance he could reach the levels of Perry and Getzlaf, but he might not. To be fair, nobody knows. As a result, you can make suitors pay for potential. More importantly, Murray doesn't HAVE to move Bobby yet. Even if other GMs try to strong arm him into a deal under the premise that he won't be able to afford Bobby later, he can say that he has time to think about it. Other GMs are going to want to get him with those three full seasons left and try to get value. Someone WILL overpay to have him. There's a distinct possibility that the Ducks can get a quality forward, a young defenseman and a first round pick for Bobby, which is a pretty great return. Of course, Bobby could also be used as bait for a bigger prize.
Bobby has tons of value to the 29 other teams in the league, and as the season wears on there will be a bidding war. However, a key to that value is the three years left on his contract. Moving him now preserves that value. Granted, moving him with two years or even one left would still be valuable, but I think getting three full seasons is very appealing. Arthur used to harangue me to keep in mind how many years are left in a deal when examining the movement of restricted free agents. Well, these are the years we earned with Bobby's restricted free agency. We should get maximum value for them. More importantly, as the years go by, that question about potential is going to get answered, and you'll no longer be able to ask people to pay for that potential.
As I said before, Murray doesn't have to move Bobby now, which means he can sit on the best offer. But, if we reach the end of his deal and he thinks he has to move Bobby before Bobby walks, then there's a chance we might not get good value for Ryan in a deal.
This Can Help Teemu:
This is my most biased argument. I've been in the camp of changing the team to help Teemu Selanne and this move could do exactly that. It could also make the Ducks better going forward. I haven't put a lot of thought into potential deals, but I love the idea of getting a package from Washington centered around Brooks Laich and featuring Alzner, Carlsson or Schultz. Alright, Schultz is probably too expensive, but it would be nice. I also love the idea of packaging him off to Nashville for Weber, who might be willing to get a young forward with years in exchange for an RFA they think they can't afford. Weber, might make one of the other young D expendable, or at least reduce the need for as much scoring up front.
Moving Bobby would, provided a good deal is made, improve the depth of the team, and, in theory, it's overall competitiveness. That would make it possible to make a run now, but those pieces might also improve depth going forward.
The money is going to be tight. Sbisa and Fowler might be closer to 5 million dollar defenders by the time Bobby goes UFA. I suppose this post is really more of a warning that we have to start looking more long term when considering what we are going to do with contracts. To me, the Ducks might have to choose between Bobby and the Twins. Getting Getzlaf and Perry as a package might drive down the price, but will it be cheap enough to keep Bobby? I suppose I am borrowing trouble, considering some of these players might not get sufficient raises, but I think it's something that needs to be discussed. The Ducks are going to have to figure it out one way or another. If the Ducks insist on keeping Bobby, they might be able to afford him, but it might keep the team from having the necessary depth to make deep runs in the playoffs.