For a team that has been decent offensively but dreadful defensively this season, the Ottawa Senators coaching and management staff are surely making some strange decisions. I covered some of this earlier in the week with my criticism of Paul MacLean, but it is increasingly frustrating for me, and I am sure other Senators fans as well, to see Bobby Ryan skating on third line.
And for a player that the Senators (I assume) want to begin negotiations this summer with on a long term deal, they aren’t exactly making him feel at home and supported. You see, Ryan is one of the top finishers in the game, with 4 straight 30 goal seasons in Anaheim before that streak was snapped in last year’s lockout shortened season. What he is not, however, is someone who can create for himself on a consistent basis. He needs to be playing with top-end players, and right now he isn’t. Mika Zibanejad could get there eventually, but he isn’t at the point where he can worry about making other players better. I feel Mika is a top 6 forward, but can’t be the key to a line. Mike Hoffman is on the other wing, a player who has proven ability at the AHL level, but hasn’t had any success as an NHLer.
I hate to think it, but this feels like the Senators trying to level off Ryan’s production so that he doesn’t have gaudy numbers heading into contract negotiations so that they might be able to get him long term for a little cheaper. A fifth 30-goal season (or even 40, which is what he was on pace for at one point in the season) and Ryan would hold all the cards in the negotiation, and would probably be looking at Phil Kessel territory on a new contract.
Ryan has been sitting there playing with fringe to middling NHLers for the last 3 games while he sees a revolving door on Jason Spezza‘s wing that includes a guy who has been put on waivers.
It is frustrating for me to watch, I can only imagine how frustrating it is for him to be part of.
If it is a ploy to lower his value in a new contract, I only hope it doesn’t backfire and he doesn’t see it as disrespect and a reason not to re-sign in Ottawa and instead go to the open market in the summer of 2015.