At 23, Anaheim Ducks wing Bobby Ryan is just entering the prime of his career. He's coming off an impressive season in which his 35 goals led the injury-plagued Ducks.
But Ryan is staring at free agency, and wants new paper.
There have been a lot of rumors floating around, including years and dollar amounts, but reality is that Ryan doesn't have a new deal in place yet. Both sides would like Ryan to stay put, but they need to get on it for him to stay a Duck.
Before we look at some other players to establish a realistic dollar amount Ryan should expect/hope for, let's look at his vitals:
2009-10 Stats: 81 GP, 35 G, 29 A, 64 Pts
2009-10 Cap Hit: $1.92M
Career Stats: 168 GP, 71 G, 60 A, 131 Pts
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both signed new five-year deals last season that kick in now, each with identical $6.3M cap numbers.
What makes this number significant to Ryan is that he cannot hope for as much/more than Kane, who is two years younger and has outscored him in his career. Kane's coming off an 88-point season and the Stanley Cup-winning goal, and has more than twice as many game-winning goals (14) in his career as Ryan (6).
They were teammates with the USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but shouldn't be in the same pay grade... not yet, anyways.
2009-10 Stats: 82 GP, 30 G, 58 A, 88 Pts
Career Stats: 244 GP, 76 G, 154 A, 230 Pts
2010-11 Cap Number: $6.3M
Nicklas Backstrom also just got a new deal, and his comes with a $6.7M cap number.
As is the case with Kane, Ryan needs to slow his roll if he thinks he's going to make as much as the (again) younger, higher-scoring Backstrom. Here are Backstrom's vitals:
2009-10 Stats: 82 GP, 33 G, 68 A, 101 pts
Career Stats: 246 GP, 69 G, 189 A, 258 Pts
2010-11 Cap Number: $6.7M
The Ducks have a problem they have to deal with internally, too. Their other two young stars, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, have three years remaining on their contracts, with cap numbers of $5.325M each.
Anaheim also has only three years left on Joffrey Lupul's contract, at $4.25M.
What this means is simple: the Ducks have a lot of renegotiating to do at the same time three years from now, and they already have two established players under contract, both of whom are as valuable (if not more) than Ryan.
So if we use Getzlaf and Perry's dollar amounts as ceilings for Ryan's new deal, where can we find a better comparison?
Tomas Plekanec might be the best fit for an appropriate comparison when Anaheim looks to put a deal together for Ryan.
Despite being four years older, their production is similar. Indeed, for their careers the difference in points per game between Ryan (.78) and Plekanec (.65) isn't that big, and considering the games played difference, their game-winning goal totals are similar (13 for Plekanec, six for Ryan).
Plekanec just signed a new six-year, $30M deal with Montreal this summer, which should serve as a nice starting point for Ryan and the Ducks to work around. Here are Plekanec's vitals:
2009-10 Stats: 82 GP, 25 G, 45 A, 70 Pts
Career Stats: 393 GP, 103 G, 151 A, 254 Pts
2010-11 Cap Number: $5.0M
If we can agree to establish parameters between Getzlaf/Perry ($5.325M) and Plekanec ($5.000M), I think there's an area where the two sides can meet and comfortably come to agreement on a deal.
Considering the league's ruling last week making anything longer than five years a "long-term contract" now, I think we need to keep in mind that Ryan is only 23 and would probably like to be a free agent again. In light of Kane, Toews and Plekanec all receiving five-year contracts, It would be appropriate for Ryan to ask for a similar term.
What the Ducks Should Offer:
5 years, $25.5M - cap number of $5.1M
In three years, the Ducks will have Lupul off the books and will be able to renegotiate with Getzlaf and Perry as they deserve between now and then.
What is most important is to consider the Ducks current financial flexibility. Anaheim has over $10M in cap space available with 23 players under contract; they can afford Ryan twice if they wanted to.