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.”
USNTDP coach Nick Fohr on Bordeleau’s Hockey IQ, Chmelevski’s Skating, Labanc’s Confidence
It’s Thomas Bordeleau Week here at San Jose Hockey Now!
Today, Sheng Peng joined the podcast, and we really got into detail on Bordeleau with his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program coach Nick Fohr.
Bordeleau isn’t the first San Jose Sharks prospect that Fohr has coached — the current USNTDP Associate Coach has worked with Kevin Labanc, Scott Reedy, and Sasha Chmelevski.
Here’s a select transcription from this fun, informative interview — Fohr shares Bordeleau’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, discusses Chmelevski’s flawed-but- improving skating, and reveals what Labanc’s USNTDP teammates gave him a hard time about.
Nick Fohr, on Thomas Bordeleau’s greatest strength and weakness:
In Thomas’s case, he’s a very crafty, skilled forward that competes pretty hard. That was something he really improved on in the two years with us.
He really loves to rely on this skill.
He’s a cerebral player. He really takes in the game. He reads plays well up and down the ice sheet.
That being a strength of his, one of his weaknesses, he relies on his skill too much. That was something we talked with Thomas a lot: Although you are a skilled hockey player, you are not skilled enough to make it in the NHL on skill alone. You have to develop a little more bite, a little more aggressiveness. You gotta round your game out a little bit more defensively. Commit to those things and not rely on just being a skilled player. Those players don’t make it in the NHL anymore. They don’t. They used to. At least they don’t make it for a long, extended period of time.
Fohr, on Bordeleau’s hockey IQ:
If you ask a coach or a scout or a GM, what are your three most important things? People almost always throw hockey IQ at you.
For me, with Thomas, where you really see it, when you see the intelligence, when he gets the puck on his stick, his ability to manipulate the other team, manipulate the defender. For example, on the power play, when he has the puck on his tape, the way he postures the puck, the way he holds the puck on his stick, the way he postures his body, will tell one story to the defender, to get the defender to move. [That] opens up the play he really wants to make.
That’s a really, really, really hard skill. It takes a lot of hockey intelligence to do that, to understand the messages you’re sending to a defender. It’s a really elite trait of his.
Fohr, on Sasha Chmelevski’s skating:
The knock on him was always his skating. He kind of skated really wide. He didn’t recover his skating very well, so his feet were always really, really wide. So people were always worried about his skating, his ability to get around the rink.
I think he’s fixed that a little bit, as I’ve seen him over the years. But he’s similar to a Bordeleau type from his ability to make plays. They actually make pretty good comparables.
Fohr, on Kevin Labanc’s Twitter handle:
By the way, he’s got one of my favorite Twitter handles out there with @Str8ToTheBanc. He had that when he was here and I remember the guys gave him a hard time about it. But I loved it.
Fohr, on if Labanc’s USNTDP teammates were jealous that Labanc has such a cool last name:
(laughs) That was probably part of it. To have the cunning to him to be able to do that, right? Kevin never lacked the confidence to pull something off like that, that’s for sure.
Make sure to listen to the entire interview: It’s well worth your time if you’re interested in the draft process for USNTDP players (6:00), which San Jose Sharks scout concentrates on the USNTDP, what Bordeleau’s game looks like (10:00), and how his father (former NHL player Sebastien Bordeleau) helped shape his game (16:00). We also compare Labanc and Bordeleau (23:30) and get a Chmelevski update from Fohr (30:00).
BREAKING: Sharks Are Talking to Conor Sheary
When free agency began on October 9th, the question was, “Who would the San Jose Sharks sign?”
After almost two weeks of relative inactivity — besides adding familiar faces Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto and losing franchise icon Joe Thornton — the question became, “What’s Doug Wilson doing?”
San Jose Hockey Now has good news for Sharks fans: Wilson is still active in free agency. So who’s he looking at — Conor Sheary, Erik Haula, or Mikael Granlund? We’ve got the scoop!
Who’s Best Option for Sharks’ Third-Line Center?
Kyle and JD put out a call for a mailbag and you responded! So much so that we had to ask for some help for your San Jose Sharks questions. We are joined by SB Nation’s Sie Morley to talk hockey, among other things. We look at reverse retro jerseys and why they are a thing, the Sharks goaltending, and if Martin Jones can bounce back (8:30). Also, who will be the third-line center (12:15) and how will San Jose Sharks fans treat Joe Thornton when they see him in blue (18:30)? Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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