The Senators opened the NHL’s two-week buyout period today by buying out winger Bobby Ryan.
It’s been a sharp decline for the 33-year-old winger, once the second-overall pick of the 2005 NHL Draft and a four-time 30-goal scorer.
Ryan is now an unrestricted free agent.
But just because Ottawa doesn’t want Ryan anymore, he can still be a useful NHL player. Right?
“I’m not a big Bobby Ryan fan. Bobby Ryan straight up doesn’t do it for me. He’s just an okay player,” an NHL scout offered. “But would you sign him for a million? Two million?”
The scout cited a similar, albeit younger and more productive player, as a model.
“The reason I’m having this conversation is Tyler Toffoli. I watched Toffoli for years. And I was like eh. He’s okay. I wouldn’t have gone out to get him,” the scout revealed. “I watched him in LA for years. He was late everywhere. Nobody could get him the puck. Can’t get it himself. All my reports were pretty much all the same, be careful on this guy.”
Like Toffoli, Ryan is a finisher first who appeared to be a little lost in a losing situation. Over the last two years, Los Angeles and Ottawa have been the third and second-worst teams in the league.
“But Toffoli’s been a really good fit in Vancouver,” the scout continued. “He goes to Vancouver, plays with Pettersson, he looks like a new player. He looks like he could replace Boeser. This is a guy who I didn’t have time for, but he’s always been a finisher.”
Of course, the San Jose Sharks and most other teams don’t have an Elias Pettersson-level playmaker to pair with a struggling finisher. And Ryan isn’t the much-younger Toffoli. The scout was simply reminding himself not to count Ryan out too quickly.
“That’s why you can’t ever exclude anybody. It depends on the make-up of the team he’s going to, what their strengths are,” the scout acknowledged.
So what does Ryan need to flourish?
“He’s still got hands and he can finish,” the scout asserted. “Can he be a third-line winger with a center who can really set people up? He doesn’t have a fourth-line type game for me. If he can finish and provide you 20 goals, that’s a pretty good deal.”
Now whether that fit could be the San Jose Sharks is an open question.
Two years ago, a finisher of Ryan’s caliber might’ve exploded with Joe Thornton. Now? Thornton, now 41, doesn’t appear to be even that Thornton anymore. That said, at the moment, Jumbo might be San Jose’s most likely option for third-line center.
A theoretical Thornton-Ryan duo would require, I believe, an elite puck retriever/forechecker to get the sure-handed but slow-footed veterans the puck — which the Sharks don’t appear to have either.
Regardless, Ryan looks like he still has some game left and the San Jose Sharks should keep tabs on him.
The scout agreed: “Where I would’ve said no on him, maybe it depends on fit.”
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