It’s a rare thing when star players become readily available in the NHL, so when a player like the Anaheim Ducks’ Bobby Ryan is rumoured to be on the trading block, people take notice.
While rumours have been kicking around since last night, Sportsnet reported earlier today that the cash-strapped Ducks, who currently sit 29th in the league, might be looking to move Ryan.
To state the obvious, Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely make a strong push for the 23-year old left winger. Ryan, a former Olympian, is coming off three straight 30-goal seasons, and would immediately make the Leafs a much more dangerous offensive force in the East despite his early season struggles so far this year.
But this isn’t about Bobby Ryan. This is about the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs actually have a shot at landing him.
Being the all-star that he is, Ryan will command a large return for Anaheim. And with fellow All-Stars Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Jonas Hiller all relatively young and definitely talented, the Ducks aren’t about to blow up the team and rebuild. The Ducks need young, NHL-ready players that can help them now and in the future.
The Leafs certainly have that, and in spades.
For Ryan, any reasonable combination of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Matthew Lombardi, Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarson, Cody Franson, or Keith Aulie would be available, among others. All relatively young, and all relatively talented. Not to mention the prospects and/or draft picks that are also at Burke’s deal-making disposal.
The most impressive part is that the Leafs can actually afford to take that kind of a hit, only a couple years removed from a time when barely any talent could be found anywhere in the organization. Young players like Joe Colborne, Jake Gardiner, and Matt Frattin have pushed hard enough to challenge some Leafs veterans for ice time, and could fill a void if one should be opened with the acquisition of Ryan. Plenty more players further down the depth chart are probably deserving of more ice time and opportunity, as well.
In hindsight, it seems Burke knew what he was doing when he described his plan for an ‘accelerated rebuild’. Signing “free wallets” such as Tyler Bozak, Jonas Gustavsson, Ben Scrivens and Marcel Mueller provided organizational depth, while moving veterans such a Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg, and Tomas Kaberle have brought in the likes of Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy, and the aforementioned Gardiner and Colborne.
Today marking Burke’s three year anniversary since arriving in Toronto, it’s fitting to see just how far this Leafs organization has come since.
Three years ago, the Leafs had practically nothing in the cupboard. Today, they’re toying with the idea of adding another franchise cornerstone and contending with the top teams in the league.