Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Barnyard Miracles! Bobby Ryan turns from a Duck to a Pig

Poor Bobby Ryan. The kid picked one slot behind Sidney Crosby hasn't had much opportunity to shine on an NHL stage. He played in his first 25 NHL games last year, including 2 in the Dallas series, and after a strong camp this season, was demoted yesterday to the AHL Chops mainly for salary cap reasons.

This is a situation that it's a bit tough to write about, because there's several unknowns at work here: (a) Bobby Ryan's bonus clauses -- thanks to NHL secrecy, I have no idea what Ryan would need to do in order to earn his $1.1 M in bonuses, though I'd guess they pertain to NHL-level achievements. If Ryan started on the Ducks, though, the $1.1 M would count against the cap as potential achievements, and I can't say at what point these bonuses become unachievable. (b) Bobby Ryan's potential -- I've liked what I've seen out of the kid in limited exposure thus far, but Ryan's played most of his hockey completely off my radar. I assume the kid is good, because of draft position and all, but really it's all question marks until it happens on NHL ice. (c) the Anaheim Ducks' need -- This is a biggie -- the Ducks will have Getzlaf-Perry and Morrison-Selanne on their top two lines, and Chris Kunitz will definitely get one of the open wing spots. There's plenty of bodies for the bottom lines also -- Pahlsson-Moen-Niedermayer + Sutherby-Marchant-Carter + Parros-Ebbett-May. Assuming somebody can handle a cushy promotion, I'm not that worried about forward depth this year. There's no Doug Weights or Todd Bertuzzis that need to be hidden in the top lines, at least.

On July 1st, when Corey Perry signed his 5-year contract, I wrote a post looking at how various wingers did next to Getzlaf-and-Perry. It wasn't a fabulous study, but it did show a trend how a "banger" like Brian Sutherby, Brad May, or Jason King got better results than a "scorer" like Kunitz or Bertuzzi. Getzlaf and Perry have always thrived with a Fedoruk-type on their wing, and perhaps that will be the forward solution this year; last night Travis Moen got an audition on the top line (and congrats to Teemu on the hat trick -- fucking awesome). Anyways, forwards can be a discussion for another day, but I don't get the sense that the Ducks need Ryan desperately to become any NHL-level hero just yet.

And that's probably why I shrug at the news that Ryan has to wait his turn to make an NHL impact. I'm always a guy who's in favor of over-sheltering young talent, for maturity reasons and for salary-impact reasons. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry can be a quick example here. When they were brought up to the NHL, it was in a no-pressure situation: 4th line minutes with Fedoruk watching their back, and not a ton of scoring was needed out of them. Even when they got sent down to the AHL for a month or so that first year, that lowered the pressure even further -- they weren't in any Calder Trophy race, for reasons outside their control. Year Two was stepped up a notch -- they were in cushy 2nd-line spots but more scoring was expected (and delivered) that year. And now they're affordable NHL stars.

If Bobby Ryan is really a future cornerstone of this franchise, what's not important to me is the NHL impact he makes in the next two years; he probably needs to do enough to demonstrate he's on the right path, but it's important to remember -- the more NHL achievements he gets, the more expensive his next contract becomes. I don't want him winning any Calder Trophy (which is safe anyways, since he plays on the west coast), and I'd rather not see any 90-point years just yet. I know it's twisted in a way, but holding back Ryan is probably good for the kid and good for the franchise. And I am kind of encouraged by this Bobby Ryan quote about the downside of contract bonuses:

"You just want to warn guys that it could be something that comes back to bite you. I'd waive 'em in a heartbeat if I could – take it down to the league minimum or whatever it would be. When it's right there in front of your face and it's a couple hundred thousand dollars that's hurting you, it's tough."
If this kid can somehow get that team-friendly-contract notion in his head now, I'm feeling pretty optimistic. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm hoping Ryan kicks ass in the AHL and forces Burke to put him in the big leagues a la Be a Pro; I expect he'll be easier to promote later in the season when bonuses become unattainable anyway. If he plays well enough, Bobby Ryan can be this year's trade deadline day pickup, and hopefully enjoy a relatively pressure-free transition into this league, just like Getzlaf and Perry did before him.

Color me an optimist; Go Ducks.


Anonymous said...

There is no bonus cushion this year. Therefore any potential bonuses count against a team's cap.

Earl Sleek said...

Yup. But I think at some point if the bonuses aren't attainable, then it becomes easier. For instance, if Ryan has a 41-games played bonus (and I have no idea if that's true), then it shouldn't count against the cap if he starts in Game 45 or something.

And besides, by then it will be pro-rated, and perhaps things will have changed with other roster moves. I fully expect to see Ryan on the team by the end of the year, but I don't mind that he'll be an AHLer in October.

Mike in OC said...

It could come down to Burke trying to make a trade or two to get the cap where he wants it WITH Ryan on the team, and he needs to be under the cap to get a decent return on whoever he moves.

It seems like teams trying to trade people when they are in cap jail get unreasonable trade offers.

I do think we need Ryan this season if we want a ligitimate shot at the cup.

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, I think a forward's still going to be moved at some point, but there's no need to figure out that answer before opening day. The good news now is there is less urgency, and I'll probably form a clearer opinion once I start seeing games again.

I do think we need Ryan this season if we want a legitimate shot at the cup.

Yeah, this may be. I hope he takes this demotion the right way, and when he does get called up, he's properly hungry to stay.

Anonymous said...

Has nothing to do with attainability. This year, all potential bonuses -- reachable, reached, not reachable, not reached -- count against the '08-'09 cap.

See Bob McKenzie's TSN archive for more.

Earl Sleek said...

I get that it's different this year, but I don't know why this section of the CBA doesn't apply (from 50.h.i):

The cash amount of any Performance Bonuses contained in an SPC that becomes impossible to earn in a given League Year shall, at that time, be deducted from the Club's Averaged Club Salary. Any Payroll Room that may result will only be for the remainder of that League Year and will not affect the Averaged Amount of a Player's multi-year SPC or the inclusion of any Performance Bonuses in the Averaged AMount of the future League Years of such SPC.

I read it like this. McKenzie's point was (I think) that in previous years, teams could be over the cap because of player bonuses; this year they cannot. But if there is a bonus that later in the year is unachievable, like a bonus if Ryan plays in 40 NHL games and there are only 35 games left, then that bonus doesn't count against the cap because it is "impossible to earn". Am I mistaken here?

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, and Ducks claim Nathan McIver, demote Brett Festerling to Iowa.

It's OK, XBOX. It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

@ Earl: Good question, I misunderstood what you were saying.

Email the NHL PR folks?

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe that Earl is right about how the bonus system goes this year. At least all kinds of reputable folks have said that's the case.

brokeyard said...

Earl: Good news, it's apparently already on its way back to me! Hoorah!

VeryProudofYa said...

I think Carter would look pretty decent in that left wing slot on the second line.

Too bad about Festerling, though. The way I look at the 6th defenseman situation is this: At least it isn't Dipenta.

Nothing against Dipenta, he was a hard worker and everything, he just wasn't good at hockey.