Anaheim Duck Bobby Ryan is widely considered one of the best young wingers in the game. So, after being put on the trade block months ago, why hasn’t a contender made its move on the talented forward? Most likely, it is due to an astronomically steep asking price. However, with the Blues in the market for both a top-six forward and top-four defenseman, would it make sense to pursue Ryan while he still has three years left on his initial (and by most standards cheap) extension?
After passing on the few high price free agents this summer, mostly because the price was just too high, it could make sense for the Blues to try and make a move through a trade. Although in order to get Ryan, it is presumed that GM Doug Armstrong would have to probably give up the Blues’ top NHL-ready prospects, along with multiple first round picks. St. Louis has the pieces to pull this trade off – with first round picks in the 2013-2015 drafts, and a bevy of young prospects including Vladimir Tarasenko, Ty Rattie, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Schmaltz, and Ian Cole. But, I think the Ducks asking price would cripple the Blues future more than it could help them in the present.
Most notably, Armstrong would be mortgaging the years of hard work in the draft (along with the painstaking push to get Tarsenko to the NHL) for only three years of Ryan’s services. Yes, this might make sense if the Blues were only a goal-scorer away from a Stanley Cup, but I definitely think they are at least a few years off, as they need to continue to develop chemistry on the offensive end and garner depth on the blue line. Trading away Tarasenko or Rattie, both of whom have tremendous potential to be on a similar level to Ryan, would not make sense for a team that needs multiple offensive pieces. Further, the loss of any young blue line prospects might force management to pursue defensemen through free agency or more trades, creating even more of a gap between the top pairing (Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk) and the other four starters.
To be sure, Bobby Ryan is a fantastic goal scorer and would be an awesome help to a Blues team that struggled to score goals last season, but he is not the right move. St. Louis has built a contender from the ground up, through the draft and subtle free agent moves, and should continue to use this system, even if that means waiting another year or two for real Stanley Cup contention.