Revisiting the Bobby Ryan Trade

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On July 5th, the Anaheim Ducks pulled the trigger on the franchise’s biggest trade since the acquisition of Chris Pronger, bringing to a sudden end a situation that had been brewing for a couple of seasons.

Let’s take a look at how the trade has worked out since Bobby Ryan announced to Ottawa, “I’m coming in hot!”

Whilst Ryan had been the subject of trade rumours for several seasons, things came to a head in June 2012 when he gave an interview to Randy Miller of the Courier-Post, and the following comment set tongues wagging:

“I take things personally,” Ryan said. “Anaheim to me has been a team over the past year that really has shown me nothing to prove that they want me here, unfortunately. Obviously, it’s not the ideal situation. When you get drafted, you want to win championships with that team and every time they look to add a piece to the puzzle, I’m the piece going the other way.

“I gotta be honest with you. At this point, I don’t care. Move me … because it’s just tough going to the rink every day knowing that if something goes wrong, you’re going to be the guy moved.”

You can read Greg Wyshinski’s take on the comment at the time over at Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog.

Image courtesy of Michael Miller (CC)

Image courtesy of Michael Miller (CC)

Trade Rumours

However, after a summer frenzy of rumours involving Ryan, talk died down with the ensuing lock-out, though once the league commenced action in January, it wasn’t long before the talk began once again.  When team-mates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, both also the subject of trade-talk given their pending free agency at the time, signed almost identical 8-year contract extensions in March 2013, it seemed almost inevitable that the younger, but only slightly cheaper Ryan would soon be scoring goals in another city.

When news of the trade hit on Free Agent Day 2013, the player on the move of town wasn’t a surprise, but the destination was.  Philadelphia had long been linked with Ryan, and of course Toronto, as always, was “in the mix”, but Ottawa was not at the top of anyone’s list.  With the unexpected loss of Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit, however, the Senators were on the lookout for a new front-line forward, and a new identity.

Who better to fill those needs than a 26 year old former 2nd overall pick, with a strong history of scoring goals?

The return for Ryan had also long been discussed by fans, with dreams of David Krejci and Sean Couturier running rampant.  The indivudal pieces involved in the final trade were somewhat less famous names, but represented a smart move by Ducks’ GM Bob Murray, restocking the organisation’s somewhat bare prospect cupboards at the forward position.

Piece Number One

Image courtesy of Michael Miller (CC)

Image courtesy of Michael Miller (CC)

Right-winger Jakob Silfverberg, drafted 39th overall in 2009 by the Senators, was a well-known prospect having posted top numbers in Sweden’s SEL and winning the league’s MVP award in 2012.  He saw his first North American action during the lock-out shortened 2012/13 season, tallying a highly respectable 29 points in 34 games for the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, and once the NHL re-opened for business in January he managed 10 goals and 19 points whilst playing in all 48 games, for a very good rookie season.

Billed as a high-end two-way forward, with excellent hockey sense, there was never any doubt about whether his skills would translate to the NHL, the only question being how far could he go.  Is star status attainable?  The Ducks, by virtue of making him the centerpiece of their return for Ryan, clearly believe such a status is attainable.

Obviously, there is still a long way to go before that question can be answered, but early returns are very good.  In 11 games with the Ducks so far this year, he has notched 4 goals and 7 points whilst averaging 14:33 minutes per game.  He started off on fire, notching all 4 of his goals and 6 of his points in his first 6 games, but managed just one assist over the next 5.  However, he still put up impressive shot rates in those 5 games, managing over 3 per game, indicating he was still making things happen on the ice.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau also had some nice things to say about Silfverberg part-way into the season:

“He’s got a great shot and release, so he’s going to score goals when given the opportunity,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Silfverberg. “More importantly, he’s very responsible — both ends of the rink. In Sweden, there’s a different style of play, where you have to learn the responsibilities of the game more than just a skill.”

Quote courtesy of Lance Pugmire of the LA Times indicates that he was indeed driving the play in the right direction, his CorsiFor% clocking in at 50.6%, and his FenwickFor% at 52.6%.  It should be noted however, that he was experiencing a massive amount of good luck – his on-ice shooting percentage was 12.5%, and his on-ice save percentage was 93.5%, both numbers well above average, and combining for a 106 PDO number.  Both of those numbers would likely have regressed, had Silfverberg not suffered a broken hand at the end of October, and he hasn’t played since, though he has resumed skating.

Regardless of good luck (scoring) and bad luck (injury), the Ducks have at the very least got themselves a useful player who can handle significant NHL minutes, and who likely has the capacity to grow into something more.

Piece Number Two

Stefan Noesen was drafted by Ottawa 21st overall in 2011 in the midst of a very good junior career for Plymouth of the OHL.  With a big frame, strong skating ability, and a competitive nature, he provides a desirable power-forward type package.  He put up a further two strong OHL seasons, though perhaps not as dominant as some might have hoped, and made his professional debut this year.  Unfortunately for Noesen, he was held pointless in 2 games for the Norfolk Admirals, and then suffered a season-ending knee injury.  This comes at an unfortunate time for Noesen, taking away an entire season of development in professional hockey.

Nonetheless, whatever setback this may cause for Noesen, he remains a prospect of high interest.  In fact, the Ducks appear to have been after him since before he was drafted.  This courtesy of Anaheim Calling following the Ryan trade:

Then Murray told a long story about how at the 2011 draft, he made the decision with his staff that if Noesen wasn’t available at their pick (22) they’d try to move down and hope Rakell was still there and try to get Gibson as well. Of course, it worked out and they ended up picking both Rakell and Gibson with the two picks they got from Toronto (30th and 36th).

Piece Number 3

And what of the first round draft choice?  It’s far too early to make the call on where that pick might end up, but if the season finished today the pick would be 7th overall, pending draft lottery results.  That’s a good pick, a very good pick in fact.  There is plenty of time for Ottawa to improve their position, as they are not actually that far behind in the playoff race despite a sub-.500 record, but Ducks fans will be hoping for their demise.

Coming In Hot

It would also be prudent to examine exactly what Ryan, the big name in the trade, has done for his new team.

For Ottawa, he hasn’t disappointed.  Playing in all 28 games so far, he’s tallied 14 goals and 26 points – 2nd on the team behind Erik Karlsson – with a +8 rating, whilst playing heavy minutes at 5v5 and on the powerplay.  This is a stark contrast from his final season in Anaheim, where he managed just 30 points and 11 goals in 46 games.  On pace for career highs of 41 goals and 76 points, he has lived up to the words he spoke to Ottawa fans on that early July day.

It is worth noting, however, that he is – much like Silfverberg – the beneficiary of good luck.  He is shooting at a very 18.7% success rate, much higher than his already above average 14.4%, and is receiving outstanding goaltending while on the ice, to the tune of a 94.3% save percentage.  His on-ice shooting percentage isn’t ridiculous, though it is slightly above average at 9.8%, but overall his PDO of 104.1 indicates we should expect slight regression at some point.

Nevertheless, he has been a strong possession player, recording a 51.8% CorsiFor rate and 50.6% FenwickFor rate, so he’s doing his job as a frontline player of not giving up more than he’s creating.  Considering the Senators are not a good team this year, that is all the more impressive.

Who Won?

As is obvious, it is years too soon to make a call on “who won the Bobby Ryan trade”, but at this time it looks to be a good deal for both teams.  Ottawa of course got the best player right now, and he’s proving to be a difference maker for them, but Anaheim got what they wanted too – valuable cap space, cheap young players with very good upside, and an extra draft pick that could prove to net them another top young prospect.

Of course, if you subscribe to the popular notion that the team who gets the best player, wins the trade, then Ottawa is of course the runaway victor.  A more balanced viewpoint however suggests that both teams received assets they badly needed, something of a rarity in the current NHL.


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