Has Bobby Ryan Redeemed Himself Enough?

Bobby Ryan pleasantly surprised many Ottawa Senators fans when he scored at an impressive rate in the playoffs. With four goals in six games against the Boston Bruins, he was key in helping the Senators win their series. Now observers are seeing Ryan as a playoff performer and seem to forgive him for his regular season struggles.


It may be a harsh question, but has Ryan done enough to make up for his $7.5 million cap hit? He received plenty of criticism over the past few years for his lack of regular season production. Ryan himself admitted that there was nowhere to go but up for him in the postseason.

People are going to say what they’re going to say and be on me for it for a long time. That’s what happens when you’re paid and you’re expected to do things. I’m going to try to do everything I can for us now.

Doing everything he can for the Senators now has paid incredible dividends. Not only has he scored four goals, three of them are game winners. Even more impressive is how he scored those goals, as they weren’t the typical sniper’s goals. Ryan showed that he was willing to pay the price to get his results. He scored by either driving towards the net or posting himself in the line of fire for a deflection.

Although player contracts don’t take the postseason into consideration, Ryan is certainly making his money’s worth right now.

Unfair Expectations?

The main reason why Ryan drew the criticism towards his play was due to his large cap hit. When a player is receiving the team’s highest pay, people expect him to consistently be the best. Looking back to when Ryan signed his extension, he was coming off a 23-goal season. Those 23 goals were three fewer than the team lead and Ryan played 12 fewer games that season.

That was the only season he played with the Senators as a reference. The general manager at the time decided to sign the extension to secure the player that cost them so much in traded assets. Ryan produced enough in his career up until that point to warrant that contract. It’s the type of contract that you pay a player with undeniable skills.

Some comparables around the league include Vladamir Tarasenko, Zack Parise, Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly. In most cases, those players are either considerably younger or their contracts are near an end. Those players are also much more important to their respective teams’ successes compared to Ryan. It goes to show why his strong performance in these playoffs has additional merit.

Still a Long Way to Go

It’s easy to forget that Ryan’s contract is seven years long and that he is only in its second year. There will be five more years of his large cap hit and it ends later than any other Senator. Having turned 30 years old in March, a viable argument is that he’s past his prime.

Helping the Senators tremendously is that their other key players have affordable contracts. The team’s top six all receive barely a $5 million cap hit or less, and captain Erik Karlsson is one of the league’s greatest bargains.

Player Cap hit Years remaining (17-18)
Bobby Ryan $7.25 million Five until UFA
Erik Karlsson $6.5 million Two until UFA
Mike Hoffman $5.187 million Three until UFA
Derick Brassard $5 million Two until UFA
Clarke MacArthur $4.65 million Three until UFA
Mark Stone $3.5 million One until RFA
Kyle Turris $3.5 million One until UFA

Courtesy of CapFriendly.com

The danger lies in the years ahead, as all of the players in the table above will need new contracts before Ryan’s expires. The team’s rising success comes with making difficult decisions with the core players. It will be interesting to see how Ryan fits into the puzzle and how he affects the pieces around him.