Let’s Talk About Bobby Ryan (…and some other things)

After hearing respected NHL pundits like Bob Mackenzie and Pierre LeBrun confirm that the Ducks have been talking to teams about moving Bobby Ryan and seeing as how Ducks GM, Bob Murray were in the building for last night’s game along with the Ducks Director of Player Personnel, Rick Paterson and a team scout, David Baseggio I think we as fans can at least talk about the possibility Ryan being traded to the Sabres. Of course, it could just be Murray and company doing due diligence after spending the weekend in Syracuse, N.Y., for pro scout meetings, but we’ll ignore that for the sake of discussion.

To give a little background on Ryan, he’s a 24 year-old elite power forward who was the 2nd player taken after Sidney Crosby in the 2005 NHL Draft. Ryan can comfortably play either wing and he can fill in at center in a pinch. Now when I say he can fill in at center in a pinch, that means he can move there during an emergency situation if they were short on centers or in other words, he’s not capable of playing center on a regular basis. Here are his career NHL stats.

SEASON

TEAM

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

S

S%

2007-08 DUCKS

23

5

5

10

-1

6

3

0

37

13.5

2008-09 DUCKS

64

31

26

57

13

33

12

0

174

17.8

2009-10 DUCKS

81

35

29

64

9

81

11

0

258

13.6

2010-11 DUCKS

82

34

37

71

15

61

5

1

270

12.6

2011-12 DUCKS

23

7

4

11

-6

10

0

0

63

11.1

NHL TOTALS

273

112

101

213

30

191

31

1

802

14.0

As you can see, he’s consistently been a 30+ goal scorer in the league. Now, I know the Sabres already have plenty of scoring depth at wing, but what they don’t have is an elite scorer with size like Ryan (6’2, 216 lbs) who actually uses it to his advantage *cough* Drew Stafford *cough*. If we’re to believe the reports out there, the Ducks are reportedly looking for a young forward, a young defenseman, and a high draft pick in any deal involving Ryan.

Assuming the Ducks want prospects who are close to being NHL-ready and have more upside in exchange for Ryan, out of the players on the Sabres roster, Stafford, Gerbe, Ennis, Kassian, and Adam seem to fit the bill up front and on defense, you’re looking at guys like Sekera, Weber, Gragnani, McNabb, Brennan, Pysyk, and Schiestel. As far as the high draft picks go, the Sabres have their 1st, their 2nd, and Calgary’s 2nd round pick to play with. So the question is how do the teams make this deal work? For Buffalo to do a Bobby Ryan trade, they need to have room to accomodate his $5.1 million cap hit.

Right now, the Sabres have no cap space to speak of, so a significant salary on the team would definitely have to go the other way. Drew Stafford’s cap hit is $4 million, so you would think that he’d have to go. The Ducks would probably have some interest in a cheaper forward with a similar frame to Ryan’s who’s coming off of a 31 goal season.

With regard to the young defenseman, I’ve watched plenty of the Ducks’ games and more than anything else, they could use a defensive-defenseman, so I think we can rule out Sekera, Gragnani, Brennan, and Schiestel being part of this hypothetical trade. That leaves Weber, McNabb, and Pysyk. Personally, I would hope that they’d be willing to take Weber, but he’s hurt right now and his upside is smaller than both McNabb’s and Pysyk’s. My guess is that knowing the Ducks’ style of play, they would really covet a bruiser on the back-end, which leaves us with just one choice, Brayden McNabb. I would absolutely hate to give him up because of his potential to be a Regehr-like player, but at the end of the day, he’s still a prospect and you’d be getting an elite player in the league in return.

The draft pick Anaheim would want from Buffalo would probably depend a little bit on what other packages other potential suitors would be offering, but it’s safe to assume that all three of the draft picks I mentioned early could be a potential candidate for this deal. So basically, my educated guess on what a Bobby Ryan-to-Buffalo trade could look like is this.

To Buffalo:

-Bobby Ryan ($5.1 million)

To Anaheim:

-Drew Stafford ($4 million)

-Brayden McNabb

-1st rounder OR 2nd rounder OR Calgary 2nd rounder

 

…and this would likely be the roster you’d see when everyone’s healthy.

 

Vanek-Hecht-Pominville

Ennis-Roy-Ryan

Leino-Adam-Boyes

Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta/McCormick

 

Regehr-Myers

Ehrhoff-Sekera

Weber/Gragnani-Leopold

 

Miller

Enroth

That lineup would give the Sabres approximately $2.3 million in cap space, which is plenty of space if they needed to call-up players or even make another trade if they wanted.

While you guys mull over all of that, let me bring up something that is real. Based on Buffalo News sports writer, Mike Harrington’s update, it seems like Ennis, Kaleta, and Miller could all return by the weekend and that Leopold has been ruled out for the weekend. Assuming Ennis, Kaleta, and Miller will be back and factoring in that Leopold won’t be available for this weekend, what could the lineup look like for Friday’s game vs. Detroit?

Personally, I’d like to give Ennis a try with Vanek and Pominville. Yes, I know Ennis isn’t a center, but Pominville has been the de facto center on that line and the upside of an Vanek-Ennis-Pominville line is enormous. If Kaleta returns, I hope the Sabres decide the send Ellis down instead of Kassian; he hasn’t been a liability and deserves a longer look.

 

Vanek-Ennis-Pominville

Hecht-Roy-Stafford

Leino-Adam-Kassian

Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta

 

As far as Leopold goes, Brennan could definitely be getting called back up to play for him. He certainly looked good in the games he played in. However, the Sabres might be inclined to go a different route and give Drew Schiestel a look. They may want to see how he can handle the NHL game after all the injury issues he’s had with his knee. Schiestel was very impressive in the games he played with the Sabres and if he can play at that level, he’s a greater asset for them than Brennan right now. I doubt Finley gets a look. His skill-set is solid, but not comparable to Leopold’s and Ruff probably wouldn’t be comfortable with how slow the defensive core would be as a whole. I’m not quite sure how Ruff would pair these guys up, but here’s a guess at what the defense could look like in this scenario.

 

Regehr-Sekera

Ehrhoff-Gragnani

Schiestal/Brennan-McNabb

 

Obviously, if Miller’s ready to go, he’ll get the start over Enroth. Here’s hoping for a much better effort against Detroit on Friday or they’re going to get slaughtered.

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