Player Name/position: Bobby Ryan, LW/C
Overall Grade: B+
Contract Status: Signed through the next two seasons at an annual salary of $5.562M and a cap hit of $5.1M.
2013 Stats: 46 games played, 11 goals, 30 points; plus-3, 16:35 TOI/G.
Playoff Stats: 7 games played, 2 goals, 4 points; plus-1, 16:17 TOI/G.
Offense: Before we can really assess this, we need to figure out who Bobby Ryan is as a player. If he’s a pure scorer, this season was probably a disappointment, as he recorded his lowest goals per game and points per game since his rookie season. If Bobby is supposed to be an anchor on a line, then this season was a moderate success. Bobby had his second highest assist per game total in his career and was generally more of a playmaker than a finisher (as evidenced by his lower shot totals). He was probably a little unlucky when it comes to goal scoring, as Bobby saw his worst shooting percentage in his career this season (10.9% vs a career average of 14.1%, which probably cost him about three goals). Overall though, Bobby seemed to be more focused on supporting the lines he played on rather than being the finisher. There were far fewer long-range shots and stickhandles through multiple defenders, and he drew more penalties per 60 minutes than anyone on the team. It’s also worth noting that Bobby’s TOI dropped nearly two minutes from last season, and almost four from 2010-2011. He was fifth among forwards in average TOI.
Defense: If his offense was a mixed bag, his defense was a clear improvement. Bobby was significantly more defensively responsible this season, and he could often be found back-checking and generally providing more help to the D. The Corsi and plus/minus numbers are a little underwhelming, but anecdotally, it felt like Bobby was a more alert player on defense and was not a total liability in his own zone. Some of these numbers can probably be attributed in part to playing with Teemu, who is not exactly known as a defensive specialist. Overall though, I think Bobby made serious strides in his defensive play this year, and I think he showed more depth to his game than he had previously displayed.
Highlight of the Season: While I’m tempted to talk about his uber clutch game-tying goals in Games 2 and 6 of the playoffs, I’m leaving them off since the Ducks ultimately wasted both of those efforts. Instead, I want to highlight his four-point night against St. Louis on February 9th that fueled a 6-5 win. Bobby recorded two goals and two assists in this one, but none was prettier than his absolutely gorgeous roof job against Elliot.
Expectations for Next Year: It really depends on whether or not Teemu Selanne comes back. It might sound controversial, but Selanne’s presence has probably held back Bobby’s development more than any other player. While he can still be effective with the Twins, Bobby truly deserves the opportunity to anchor his own line. At the tail end of last season, Bobby put up 18 points in 18 games with Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri. Unfortunately, that line was never revisited this season, and Bobby ended up being shuffled up and down the lineup as Bruce tried to find combinations that would click and get other players going. If Teemu comes back, then it’s probably time to deal Bobby because he won’t really have a place on the team. If Teemu doesn’t come back, then I think Bobby has earned the chance to anchor a second line with two of Palmieri, Bonino, Etem, or Cogliano.