By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s been almost 10 years since the first ‘Bring Bobby To Boston’ movement began. It obviously failed to go anywhere — and the Bobby in transit, then-Duck Bobby Ryan — didn’t go anywhere ’til 2013 when he was sent to the Senators for a three-piece return.
But now, with Ryan clearing waivers and on his way to a buyout of the final two years of what was a seven-year contract worth over $50 million, the possibility of bringing Bobby to Boston is back on the table for the Bruins. And for a far more palatable price.
Let’s make one thing clear: The Bruins would not be getting the Ryan they drooled over back then. He’s 33 years old now, and is coming off career-lows in goals (five), points (eight), and games played (24) in 2019-20. Off-ice issues had something to do with that, as Ryan missed over three months of the season to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. But even before this trying year, which ended with the positive of Ryan capturing the 2019-20 Masterton Trophy, Ryan struggled, with a then-career low 33 points in 2017-18, and a mild 15-goal, 42-point output in 78 games two seasons ago.
Over the last three years, that’s added up to 31 goals, 52 assists, and 83 points in 164 games played. If you’re not feeling all hot and bothered looking over that stat-line, I can’t blame you. But, for some additional context, those 31 goals would rank Ryan as the seventh-most productive scorer in Boston, and his 0.51 points per game would rank as the sixth-best among B’s forwards with at least 100 games played, slotting between Jake DeBrusk’s 0.59 and Danton Heinen’s 0.49.
One thing that you’d like about Ryan? He’s a right shot who actually shoots the puck. The Bruins are still suffering from a several lack of such talents in the organization behind David Pastrnak, and deadline addition Ondrej Kase did little to remedy the issue. It’s been a six-year blackhole, in fact, and it’s swallowed and spit out about a dozen names along the way. (Do you remember when the Bruins invited Ville Leino to training camp or do you live a normal life free of horrible thoughts?)
And with 315 shots on goal over that three-year run, Ryan would rank fifth among all Boston wings in shots over that same stretch, trailing Heinen, DeBrusk, and the top-line combo of Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. Break it down by usage and Ryan’s landed 7.36 shots on goal per 60 minutes of all-situation play over that sample, which would rank sixth among Boston forwards, trailing only the Bergeron Line, DeBrusk, and Sean Kuraly.
Ryan’s also had a knack for creating rebounds, or cleaning up rebound opportunities in front of the net when asked. The Bruins could certainly use more of that, both at even-strength and when up a man, as that net-front role was a problem and revolving door throughout the team’s 13-game summer restart.
The Bruins, by the way, have entered this offseason stressing the need to shoot the damn puck. After a postseason run that saw them held to the outside and shoot just 5.2 percent at five-on-five, can’t say I blame ’em.
But what should put Ryan on the B’s radar, miles above the handedness and the underlying numbers that make you wonder if there’s still something left in the tank, would be the price.
He’s going to be affordable. Highly so, you’d imagine.
With his Ottawa money still coming his way via the buyout, Ryan’s likely looking for the landing spot that’ll put him back on the NHL map more than anything else. (A 5-3-8 in 24 line doesn’t get you multi-year deals, and especially not at 33.)
And the Bruins — with Kase and Anders Bjork serving as his top competition for ice-time, two players who were either benched or demoted by Bruce Cassidy this past postseason, and with the opportunity to work with either David Krejci or Charlie Coyle as his center — present Ryan with a tremendous opportunity.
It’s the kind of low-risk, high-reward opportunity that the Bruins may be looking for with a flat cap and approaching a crossroads as an organization. The Bruins know ‘brutally honest’ decisions are coming their way soon, and this kind of investment may make more sense than investing five years in a Mike Hoffman or top-tier money in a Taylor Hall.
Whether or not it translates to actual interest from either party remains to be seen. It’s entirely possible that there’s a better option elsewhere. Or that the Bruins are going to swing for the fences or begin the retool without half-measure plays.
But at the same time, now, more than ever, may be the B’s best chance to finally bring Bobby to Boston.