The Kessel Contract And Bobby Ryan

With the Kessel signing now official, there exists benchmark for determining where we could be next year when Bobby Ryan, Ottawa’s new goal scoring winger enters the final year of his contract with.

One year older than Kessel, Ryan’s production over the past five seasons has not differed much.

Here’s a look at Kessel’s numbers:

Season
GP
G
PTS
G/gm PTS/gm
2008/09
70
36
60
.51 .85
2009/10
70
30
55
.43 .79
2010/11
82
32
64
.39 .78
2011/12
82
37
82
.45 1.00
2012/13
48
20
52
.42 1.08
Total
352
155
313
.44 .89

And now Ryan’s numbers:

Season
GP
G
PTS
G/gm PTS/gm
2008/09
64
31
57
.48 .89
2009/10
81
35
64
.43 .79
2010/11
82
34
71
.41 .87
2011/12
82
31
57
.38 .70
2012/13
46
11
30
.24 .65
Total
355
142
279
.40 .79

Over the course of those five seasons, Kessel has an additional 13 goals and 34 points in 3 fewer games played. In other words, you’re essentially looking at player who’s averaged 2.6 more goals and 6.8 points per season.

What really separates Kessel from Ryan over the course of his career is his marked improvement over the course of the past two seasons – jumping to a point-per-game to last season’s 1.08 points/gm.

The ironic part about Kessel’s jump in production is that it has come while being saddled with Tyler Bozak. The same Tyler Bozak whose metrics show him to be terribly overrated, ‘a lousy player’, and less productive than Matt Stajan. Despite this disadvantage, he has continued to improve.

The same can’t be said of Bobby Ryan’s past two seasons. Albeit, as Pierre McGuire informed Ottawa sports radio listeners, there is an explanation for why his numbers were down last season.

"…and I don't know if Bobby wants this out there, but I'm gonna put it out there anyway in the interest of proper information dissemination. Bobby Ryan was sick most of last year. And he had a really tough time with an illness that they eventually found out…they traced it believe it or not to a trip that he took over to the far east. And if was something with his digestive system, and it was a real problem for him. He's healthy now, he's a hundred percent, and I know he's really excited about being there, really really excited. … Bruce was probably getting frustrated cause he couldn't find this guy to get his name to another level. And a lot of it was because he was ill, and I know he had a long talk with Bobby Murray the general manger in Anaheim about it."

Of course, it didn’t help matters that Ryan’s 10.9-percent shooting percentage was a career-low either, but fortunately for Bobby, he can spend the next season to two seasons padding his offensive numbers playing as part of a five-man unit that includes one Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. In playing with these two alone, he has a decent chance of cracking the 40 goal mark and putting up point-per-game type numbers.

In short, he’s going to be eligible for an extension that approaches in dollars and term what Kessel signed today.

Without having watched too much of Ryan, it’s difficult to say whether that would be prudent. Though there is good evidence top goal scorers actually peak at 23, so locking up Ryan through his age 28-35 seasons seems pretty damn risky on the surface. 

Having already seen how quickly Dany Heatley’s production waned into the extension that he signed with Ottawa, Sens fans know firsthand how these long-term big money contracts can go south once players reach the age of diminished returns. Fortunately in Ottawa’s case, Heatley’s trade request allowed them to get out from underneath before it truly became an anchor.

And there’s the rub. The Ottawa Senators look to be closing in on a window to contend for the Cup over the course of the first few seasons of any prospective Ryan extension. Rather than lose him for nothing or trade him and risk not getting an appropriate measure of value back in return, the Sens may be better off trying to lock Ryan up and hope that his production doesn’t diminish enough over the duration of his extension to make it look terrible.

My gut feeling is that Ryan doesn't think about signing an extension unless Spezza has signed one first, coupled with some sort of renewed confidence that Jason's health is nothing to worry about. So yeah, both of those are hardly a given.

Also not a given, that the owner will have the means to retain both players at their market value.

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