When Bobby Ryan wasn’t included in the Ottawa Senators’ lineup Saturday night, the belief was he was potentially dealing with a slight knock or there was some other reason for his absence that would be expressed post-game.
Instead, the Senators stayed mum. Ryan was out, and that was that.
So when the subject of Ryan’s absence was broached once again on Sunday, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher took a hard stance that it was something he wasn’t going to talk about. Boucher said the Senators “had an issue that we dealt with and it is dealt with,” and while that sounds like it could be a disciplinary action, Boucher said there was no sending a message with Ryan’s absence.
“You’re going places that I’m not going here,” Boucher said, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. “We’ve got things that we keep it at this and there are things that I’m able to tell you. I’m leaving it at that. Period. Period. Period.”
The seemingly delicate dance around what had happened to cause Ryan to miss the outing continued on with Ryan himself, who said it wasn’t the business of media to understand, as much as that may make their duty difficult.
“The coach said it’s going to be dealt with in house, and we’re going to keep it in house. That’s it,” Ryan said, according to Garrioch. “I know it doesn’t help your jobs in the speculation columns and the things you’ve got to do, but some things deserve to stay in house and this is one of them.”
Regardless of what kept Ryan out of the lineup, though, there are some things we do know about the 29-year-old’s season thus far. The biggest is that it has been far from his best in terms of production, and there’s not much reason to believe it’s about to get all that much better.
Through 33 games this season, Ryan has managed just seven goals and 14 points, putting him on pace for his lowest full-season goal total ever. If he continues to produce at this rate, he’s expected to finish the year with somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 goals and 32 points, which would be the lowest point total of any full season and only two points better than the 30 points he mustered in the lockout shortened season.
The other major concern is that Ryan has seemingly fallen down the depth chart under Boucher. Over the course of the first half of this season, Ryan’s average ice time is down nearly a full two minutes from the 2015-16 campaign and more than two minutes from the 17:28 he averaged during the 2014-15 season in Ottawa. Matter of fact, right now Ryan has become more of a bottom-six fixture than a top-line winger, and that’s not a great position for Ryan or the Senators.
That’s especially true given that Ryan currently has six seasons left on the seven-year, $50.75-million deal he inked with the Senators back in October 2014. That contract, which pays Ryan $7 million this season, gives him the 25th-highest cap hit of any player in the league this season, and he’s far from earned his place on that list with his performance this season.
Currently sitting third in the tight Atlantic Division playoff race, the Senators could use Ryan playing at the top of his game and he’s shown before that he’s capable of being a dynamic offensive force. Whether his one-game absence helps spur a return to form is impossible to say, but whatever the Senators had to deal with, Boucher, Ryan and everyone in Ottawa is almost certainly hoping getting the situation handled leads to a better Ryan moving forward.
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