Is the Cost to Bring Bobby Ryan Home Worth the Risk?

Every year it seems that Flyers fans get bored when the offseason hits. It makes sense, but it’s also a time where ridiculous scenarios pop up on the ol’ Twitter timeline. Scenarios that make you scratch your head and ask, “what are they thinking?” The latest scenario is one that is no stranger to the rumor mill. This time around however, there’s a legitimate possibility of it happening. Bobby Ryan is now available.

Tweet courtesy of the Ottawa Sun Twitter account. (@OttawaSunCom)

The long fabled “Bring Bobby Home” campaign is finally obtainable. The Cherry Hill, New Jersey native was bought out by the Ottawa Senators on September 26, and there’s no shortage of Flyers fans clamoring for the team to bring him home.

Tweet courtesy of Kyle Warner (@WarnerKyle29)
Tweet courtesy of Puck Head #OskarStrong (@JZoom)

The prospect of Bobby Ryan in a Flyers uniform is incredibly appealing. Ryan had a span of four consecutive seasons where to notched 31 or more goals. During that span, he scored no less than 57 points as well. What’s not to like about that type of potential? Maybe the fact that it happened from 2008 to 2012, as recent as eight years ago.

Bobby Ryan Stats courtesy of HockeyReference.com

Since then, he’s signed with the Ottawa Senators and posted 107 goals, 159 assists for a total of 266 points in 455 games. Scoring at a rate of .58 points per game, it’s not too shabby. However, long gone are the seasons of 30+ goals for Ryan. His last four seasons saw him score 13, 11, 15, and five all in that order.

Bobby Ryan Stats Courtesy of HockeyReference.com

At 33 years of age, Ryan’s career is on a downward trajectory. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to contribute to his next team. Ryan can still notch some points on the scoresheet, just not nearly as frequent as he could earlier in his career. So this begs the question, once again, should the Flyers entertain the idea of bringing Bobby Ryan onboard?

Organizational Fit

The Flyers have openings, specifically at the winger position. Bobby Ryan would fill an immediate hole and be able to step right into this lineup. The problem however, he would likely be much further down the lineup than he was with the Ottawa Senators. According to the Daily Faceoff, Ryan played the right wing on Ottawa’s top line with Colin White at center and Brady Tkachuk on the left wing. Ryan wouldn’t sniff the first line with the Flyers.

Bobby Ryan would likely end up on the Flyers third line, potentially the fourth line. While he’s lost a step, he could still be a successful bottom-six type player. The biggest problem you run into is whether or not he would block the young guns from coming up to the NHL. With the roster as it currently stands, you have Joel Farabee, Oskar Lindblom, James van Riemsdyk, and Michael Raffl at the left wing. The right wing position consists of Jakub Voracek and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton are often listed as centers, but they are typically on the wing as well. If the Flyers want to accommodate Bobby Ryan, it’ll mean they’re likely to let Tyler Pitlick walk into free agency, along with either Nate Thompson or Derek Grant as well, if not both.

Cap Implications

This is where things get even trickier. It’s no secret that the Flyers are battling the stagnant cap. The cap is going to remain at $81.5 million for the 2020/21 season, leaving the Flyers in a very tough spot. They still have Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg, and Justin Braun to re-sign if they so desire. They also have Tyler Pitlick, Nate Thompson, Derek Grant, and Nolan Patrick to sign as well. With roughly $7.835 million in cap space, Chuck Fletcher has some number crunching to do.

In order to gauge just how much Bobby Ryan is going to command on the open market, it seems fair to look at past buyouts and see what their next deals looked like. More so, it’s best to look at more recent deals considering how close the markets are instead of deals from five to ten years ago.

Corey Perry

Last summer, the Anaheim Ducks bought out their third all-time leading scorer. Perry had two years left on an eight year deal worth $69 million and an annual cap hit of $8.625 million. With the terms of the buyout, Perry now accounts for $2.625 million this year, $6.625 next year, and $2 million against the cap of the Anaheim Ducks in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Perry wasted no time and signed a deal with the Dallas Stars for one year at $1.5 million. A fraction of his prior contract, but Perry made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Stars.

Patrick Marleau

Patrick Marleau was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes after being traded there by the Toronto Maple Leafs. His three year $18.75 million deal was signed with the Maple Leafs. Carolina is now short $6.25 million this season, and nothing next season when it comes to their salary cap.

Marleau returned to the San Jose Sharks organization this season, signing a one year deal worth $700k. He was later traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in the play-in round of the 2020 NHL playoffs.

Kevin Shattenkirk

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was bought out from his contract by the New York Rangers in August of 2019. His four year $26.6 million deal turned into a cap hit of $1.483 million in years one, three, and four for the Rangers, with year two taking up $6.083 million in cap.

Shattenkirk signed a one year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the 2019/20 season worth $1.75 million. Turns out he made the right decision, considering the Tampa Bay Lightning just are within one win of the Stanley Cup.

Valeri Nichushkin

Nichushkin was bought out by the Dallas Stars in June of 2019. His two year $5.9 million deal turned into a $700k cap hit for Dallas this season, and $450k next season. Nichushkin ended up signing a contract with the Colorado Avalanche before the 2019/20 campaign. The contract was a one year deal worth $850k.

Michael Stone

Michael Stone’s case is an unusual one, but makes total sense once all is said and done. He was bought out of his three year $10.5 million deal by the Calgary Flames. His term and cap hit was spread out two years where he accounted for $1.167 million against Calgary’s cap.

Stone re-signed with the Flames before the 2019/20 season for one year at $700k. Accounting for his $1.167 buyout cap hit and his $700k salary, he’s still counting for less against the cap than he would have had the Flames not bought him out. A cap-conscious move by the Flames to say the least.

Bobby Ryan

Bobby Ryan’s contract with the Ottawa Senators was for seven years at $50.75 million. After being bought out, Ryan will account for $3.583 million for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 season, and $1.833 million in 2022/23 and 2023/24 against Ottawa’s cap. It’s not like Ottawa needed the cap room, they still haven’t met the cap floor. They have just over $43 million in cap space according to CapFriendly.

There’s no right way to project what Bobby Ryan will make in his next deal, but it’s likely to be substantially less than his most-recent $7.25 million annually. The closest player to compare in regards to cap hit is Kevin Shattenkirk, who is now making $1.75 million with Tampa. However, you look at Corey Perry who was making $8.625 with the Ducks, and now he’s making $1.5 million with Dallas. Speculation is just that, speculation. It’s hard to gauge what Ryan’s next contract will look like.

The Verdict

The stagnant cap will play a big role in where Ryan ends up. Teams will be less likely to try and outbid each other for Ryan’s services. With a prove-it type deal looming, what team is willing to take that risk? Players who have been bought out typically go to contenders, but what contender is going to assume that risk?

The Flyers likely won’t be one of those potential suitors. With needing to fill the backup goaltender role, needing to sign another name or two on the blue line and forward units, not to mention keeping things minimal to prepare for a Carter Hart extension, the stars just aren’t aligning for a Bobby Ryan homecoming.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but if Bobby Ryan wants to come back home to Cherry Hill, the closest he’s going to get is in Newark with the New Jersey Devils, because the Flyers just won’t be able to make it work.

Mandatory Credit – Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire

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