The hockey world became a flutter upon notice that Bobby Ryan was being shopped by the Anaheim Ducks. The young, talented goal scorer was on the minds and in the dreams of fans all around the league that want to see their team with more fire power in the offensive zone. Looking at the current state of affairs in Nashville, I can’t think of a better time to make a move for someone the caliber of Bobby Ryan than right now.
The Predators have scored a woefully bad seven goals in their last five games. The defense and goaltending have trenched in the last two games allowing only one goal in each of the two games, however, the Predators still lost in Calgary Tuesday night one to nothing. Over the course of the whole season, the team has averaged 2.50 goals per game, which ties them for 18th best. Meanwhile, the three headed defensive monster of Rinne, Weber and Suter have produced a goals against average of 2.58 (team average). In simple black and white, something has to change. You are what you are, and this team averages giving up more goals per game than it scores. That is not a recipe for long term success.
Looking at the big picture with the Predators, the assumed price to keep Ryan Suter is in the ballpark of $7 million dollars a year. Shea Weber will also be asking between $7 and $8 million dollars. Combine that with Pekka Rinne’s salary of $7 million and roughly 1/3 of the total salary cap is locked up on three defensive players. Consider also that the Predators rank 14th in the league with their goals against average of 2.58 and the price tag seems even higher. Frankly, the price is too high for an average team defense.
There are many little things that teams can do correctly to move themselves into the win column, but goal scoring is necessary to sustain success in the NHL. Setting emotion aside, the best asset the Predators have is Shea Weber. He’s one of the top defensemen in the league and his restricted free agent status offers the team he’s traded to many options next year. If the Ducks wanted to keep Weber, he is a proven leader and defenseman that they could use as a cornerstone to build around. If Weber wanted out of Anaheim and they make him an offer, he will be highly valuable in terms of draft picks due to the restricted free agent rules. The Ducks would stand to gain at minimum two first round draft picks with the potential for four first round draft picks. A player with the contract position of Shea Weber could be very appealing to a team like the Ducks that are in flux.
In return the Predators would gain a breath of fresh air to their stagnant offense. Bobby Ryan, at minimum, is a 30 goals and 60 points player. There are many that believe he has not reached his full potential at this point in his career and there may be further upside to the 24 year old. Ryan is under contract through the 2015 season which means that the Predators could also plan better into their future. In addition to his contract being through 2015, he is $2 million dollars a year cheaper than the $7.5 million dollar Weber, which frees up even more cash prior to the trade deadline or for the upcoming offseason.
I am aware of the blasphemy I have just written. I suggested the Predators trade their captain/star defenseman. Shea Weber is an amazing talent on the ice and a team leader. The reasons a team would hate to see him go, are the same reasons he has to go. He’s the value that the Predators can offer to Anaheim. If Nashville continues to do what it has always done, it will continue to get what it has always got. This is an opportunity to position the team for years to come. Change is scary, but change can also be good. It’s an issue now of whether or not the Predator’s front office has the stomach to make that change.