With the summer months coming to a close and the volatility of the NHL free agency period starting to wind down, trade talks and rumors have likewise quieted, at least for the mean time.
One of the last remaining and probably one of the most talked about topics is the possibility of Bobby Ryan being moved. It seems like Ryan’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors since the middle of last season, when the Anaheim Ducks were in a complete free fall. The only problem is that all this time has gone by and he hasn’t been traded. With training camp only a few weeks away for NHL teams, we need to consider the possibility that Ryan and the Ducks’ management have been able to get on the same page and patch things up. At this point, that’s worth every bit as much analysis as the possibility of Ryan being traded.
If he does in fact stay, it’s worth asking the question: In a Ducks’ uniform, where will Coach Bruce Boudreau play him? Last year he spent time on each of the first three lines, playing both wings, and even center in some cases. Where can we expect Ryan to play the bulk of his minutes this year?
The famed “RPG” line named after Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf, over the past few years has been one of the most explosive scoring lines in hockey. Both Randy Carlyle and Boudreau experimented with breaking the line up by moving Ryan, but the fact remains that Ryan is still Anaheim’s third most prolific scorer, and has had four straight 30 goal seasons. This means that he should get at least a fair amount of time on the Ducks’ first scoring line.
Second Line Center
When Ryan did play center, it was typically on the second line in place of Saku Koivu who would move to the third line. This was all part of Boudreau’s plan to role three scoring lines and if he decides to do it this year, Ryan could be playing center again. This will also depend on the success of Kyle Palmieri and possibly Emerson Etem. Both youngsters will look to make the Ducks’ roster and establish themselves as consistent point producers. If they’re able to do so, having Ryan on a line to help their production could be a good way to solidify their second line for the post Teemu Selanne and Koivu years.
When Ryan did play on the third line he was usually at his comfortable and native right wing position, playing alongside Devante Smith-Pelley and Andrew Cogliano. The play of Cogliano and Smith-Pelley this year could determine whether or not it’s worthwhile for Boudreau to play an offensive minded third line. If he does, Ryan could see limited time in that role as well.
Second Power Play
With Getzlaf, Perry, and Selanne all regulars on the first power play unit, that relegated Ryan to the second power play unit, where offense wasn’t quite as plentiful. It’s possible that if Getzlaf gets moved to the point, Boudreau could stack the first power play line and move Ryan up. Otherwise I would expect to see him continue to play on the wing for the second unit.
While the prospect of a blockbuster trade involving Ryan is interesting to think about, we need to consider the ever increasing probability that he’ll stay in Anaheim and continue to play for the Ducks. If he does indeed stay, it’ll be intriguing to watch how the Ducks use him on the roster, and whether or not he continues to server his role as the top line’s left wing or gets moved into a different role and given his “own line” so to speak. We’ll find out soon enough.