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Bobby Ryan on the trade block? Paging David Poile…

Gut feeling is that Anaheim sniper Bobby Ryan would look pretty darn good  in the new Predators third jersey.

According to the Orange County Register (with a special shout out to Puck Daddy), the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are considering trading their young superstar Ryan because talks between the two parties have broken down recently.

Ryan will be a restricted free agent come July 1, 2010 and, after his Calder nominated performance last season, he’s looking for quite a hefty raise. And who can blame him? All he did was break into the lineup and post 57 points (including 31 – count ’em THIRTY-ONE – goals) in 64 games. And he put up those numbers in not only the Western Conference, but in the brutal Pacific Division as well.

Let’s think about this for a second… What do the Nashville Predators need more than anything? They need a scoring left winger. They were also ready to pay 22-year old winger Phil Kessel close to $5 million/season in a long term deal. It took Kessel three full seasons to put up a 30-goal campaign (36 in 2008-09). It took Ryan one.

It just so happens Ryan is also 22-year old winger. Kessel wanted out of Boston (as an RFA) because the Bruins weren’t willing to pay him what he was worth. Ducks are in the same boat with Ryan.

And while time isn’t literally an enemy of the Predators like it was during the Kessel saga, Poile would still want to reach a trade-and-sign deal with the Ducks and Ryan’s agent Mark Guy as to ensure Nashville doesn’t give away picks and players for what would end up being a rent-a-player situation. But, unlike Kessel, technically the Preds could trade for Ryan and be working out a deal while he’s playing in a Nashville sweater.

Some say that Ryan has been inconsistent this season and that’s the reason Anaheim’s thinking about shopping him. Well, if 9 points in his last 10 games and 14 in his last 13 is inconsistent, than that’s the kind of inconsistency we want here in Nashville.

With 16 points on the year, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native would come into the Predators lineup and instantly be their top scorer. JP Dumont currently leads the way with 15.

Also keep in mind that his numbers suggest he’s a solid two-way player, which the Predators organization loves. He’s a plus-14 in his career, including a plus-2 on this years horrible Ducks team.

The rumor during the Kesselnegotiations was that the package that would’ve been sent to the Bruins was a couple 1st round picks and blue chip prospect Jon Blum. Not a bad deal considering Anaheim would get a defensive prospect in return and, depending on who they draft, two more chances at drafting a guy like Ryan. And, on the Nashville side, not a bad deal as Cody Franson really seems to be coming along at the NHL level and with 2009 1st round pick Ryan Ellis waiting in the wings, moving Blum isn’t as damaging as it seemed to be during the Kessel negotiations.

And, of course, if the Preds were willing to pay Kessel $5 million/year, they should certainly be willing to pay Ryan the same.

Also, it was reported that the Bruins wanted Colin Wilson in the Kessel deal and, obviously, that was the deal breaker for Poile. As it should have been. Wilson is the future of this organization. But one center can’t do it by himself. So imagine Colin Wilson centering a line with Bobby Ryan…

That’s a beautiful image, isn’t it?

Well it can happen. It can happen if Poile puts together roughly the same package he offered Boston for Kessel.

The Preds need a sniper. Ryan is one. They need a scoring left winger. Ryan is one. They need a younger kid that they can build around. Ryan is just that. They need nightly respect around the league with a big name on their roster. They need an offensive guy who’s not just offensive-minded. They need a player who brings fans out of their seats every time he touches the puck. Ryan is all these things. Nashville would be getting everything they need with this transaction.

(Plus, they’d get yours truly to finally shut up about Maxim Afinogenov. Who doesn’t want that?)

And for those who would argue “don’t mess with success” seeing as how the Predators have won six games in a row and nine of their last 11, don’t let those numbers fool you. Nashville has only scored 53 goals this season, 2nd worst in the NHL. Adding scoring is still a priority.

If the Predators wanted to make a big splash to drive up ticket sales and generate some national media attention, trading for Bobby Ryan well before the trade deadline is the way to do it.

Of course, they’d also bump up pro shop sales as they’ll be busy putting RYAN on the back of all those new thirds.


UPDATE (11/27/09): Eklund is reporting on that the Preds have some interest in Ilya Kovalchuk. First of all, Eklund’s job is to report on what’s being talked about, not necessarily what’s going to actually happen. A single phone conversation between Poile and Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell that goes like the following would be enough for Eklund to blog that the Preds have interest:

Poile: “Hey Don. What would you want for Kovalchuk?”
Waddell: “Frankly, David? Your entire farm system.”
Poile: “Okay thanks.”

That being said, Kovalchuk is yet another superstar name that has been associated with Nashville when it comes to trade talks. First it was Kessel, then Alexander Frolov, then Ryan and now Kovalchuk. Considering the three that are “available” now, Ryan is still the best choice from a PR standpoint. He’s the youngest of the three and is the most responsible on both sides of the ice. Furthermore, he’s American, which normally wouldn’t make a difference but, if the Predators are looking for the biggest impact in the community, a “home-grown” kid who speaks perfect English and can make numerous public appearances and be perfectly understood is the best choice. Especially if he has the potential to produce similar numbers than the other two options.

Nothing against Kovalchuk. Nothing at all actually. We’d love to see him in a Predators sweater. He’d give hockey in Tennessee instant recognition on a national scale and would help solve the scoring issues. But not only would the casual fan be able to identify with Ryan, but he’d cost about $2-$3 million/year less as well.

But hey… maybe if Kovalchuk comes to Nashville, he’ll bring Afinogenov with him. *wink*


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Zampelli