High-scoring Anaheim left wing Bobby Ryan could be "available" once again, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported on Tuesday. Ryan was reportedly available during the past season as the Ducks struggled early in the year.
Anaheim eventually chose to change coaches instead of core players, firing Randy Carlyle and hiring Bruce Boudreau. The Ducks responded with a strong second half but fell short of the playoffs, and Ryan was pulled off the market.
It may have only been a temporary reprieve, however, as Ryan may be getting shopped again this summer. McKenzie did caution that there's no guarantee the Ducks will move Ryan, following up his initial tweet by noting, "That doesn't mean Bobby Ryan is sure to be moved. It does means ANA's phone will be/has been ringing and they will be keenly listening."
If Anaheim really is open to taking bids on Ryan, that will dramatically alter the trade market this season. Columbus general manager Scott Howson has been demanding a king's ransom of roster players, prospects and picks in exchange for Nash despite the onerous contract that comes with the Blue Jackets star.
Nash carries a $7.8 million cap hit for six more years, and unlike most long-term deals that pay the bulk of the money up front, Nash's contract is back-loaded. He'll actually cost his new owner more than the cap hit in each of those six years, rising to $8.2 million in the final year of the deal in 2017-18.
Having turned 28 on Saturday, Nash is also three years older than Ryan. The top pick of the 2002 draft has 674 games of wear and tear on his body in the course of his nine seasons in the NHL, which can take a toll on a player who takes the body as often as Nash does (104 hits last season). The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Nash has saved himself a bit though, with Columbus playing a total of four playoff games in its history.
Ryan, in contrast, is just 25 and carries a cap hit of $5.1 million over the next three seasons, though he too will draw an actual salary that is higher at $5.562 million.
Like Nash, Ryan is a physical forward who uses his size (6-foot-2, 209 pounds) effectively. He had 113 hits last season to go with 31-26-57 totals that mirrored Nash's line of 30-29-59. Ryan, who was taken second in the 2005 draft, one spot behind Sidney Crosby, reached the 30-goal mark for the fourth straight season with just 204 shots, while Nash needed 306 to hit 30 for the seventh time in his career.
Both players would go a long way toward jump-starting a stagnant offense, which is why so many teams have been reportedly interested in acquiring Nash despite the steep price in both assets and cap space. The Rangers were reportedly in heavy discussions at the trade deadline and continue to headline the list of potential suitors, with the Flyers, Leafs, Hurricanes, Sharks and Bruins also mentioned in various reports.
Ryan's potential availability should be welcome news to all of those teams. Not only is there now another attractive alternative to pursue for offensive help and a second chance to land an impact player if you lose the bidding war for Nash, but Nash's price will likely have to come down as well now that the interest will be split between to two power forwards.
That's simple supply and demand at work, though Howson could reclaim some leverage if Ryan is dealt first and the sense of desperation returns for the losing bidders.
And Ryan should be the first choice of those suitors. He's the more attractive option, the newer model with a lower sticker price offering the same performance. That is the player a team in need of scoring should kick the tires on before even thinking about taking on Nash's unwieldy cap hit for an exorbitant price.