Just days after winning the NHL’s Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, Bobby Ryan is now looking for a new NHL home. Yesterday, the Senators bought out the remaining two seasons on Ryan’s contract.
“This was a decision that required a lot of consideration,” said Senators’ GM Pierre Dorion. “Bobby’s long been a deserving fan favourite in Ottawa. While we’re appreciative of his efforts on the ice, it’s outweighed by how proud we are of him for the courage that he has demonstrated off of it. As we continue to make strides in our rebuild, this decision was one that we felt was best for the organization. We wish he and his family the best as he moves forward.”
Ryan was acquired by the Sens in 2013 in a move that appeared to be an attempt to distract Ottawa fans from the surprising and disappointing loss of their franchise player, Daniel Alfredsson. The Sens’ captain had signed as a free agent with Detroit then, later in the same day, Ottawa pulled the trigger on the Ryan deal with Anaheim.
Ryan was at his best in Ottawa during the 2017 run to the Eastern Conference Final. He became the first player in franchise history to record multiple overtime winners in the same playoff year and ranked second in team scoring with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in that run.
While Ryan had some very nice moments in Ottawa, he didn’t come close to replacing Alfredsson, nor did he live up to the seven-year, $50 million extension he signed with the Sens in 2014. The 33-year old’s exit will be unpopular in some quarters, particularly after the Masterton win and his inspiring comeback from alcohol rehab. But it is another loud signal that this club is, indeed, striving for improvement.
Ryan is no longer able to produce like a top-six NHL forward and he’s never shown the ability to play the robust style of game required to be a bottom-six option. So the Sens are willing to pay Ryan $10 million to not play hockey for them anymore, and they’re doing it because it makes them better.
The Senators have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL and, with 3 first-round picks, it’ll get even deeper on October 6th at the 2020 NHL Draft. And here’s the thing about a team with so many good young players, all about to blossom…you have to create room for them.
Senators’ GM Pierre Dorion is clearly doing just that, announcing last week that goalie Craig Anderson, another Masterton winner, will not be offered a contract. Dorion also thanked Mark Borowiecki for his time here, expecting the popular, rugged defenceman, who grew up minutes from their rink, to test the NHL free-agent waters and sign elsewhere.
In their own way, all three of these players are popular with fans. But the NHL is the realm of the young and time moves quickly for us all. Saying goodbye to players like these is never easy but, hockey-wise, these are the right decisions.
By Steve Warne