Despite a down season for his team, Bobby Ryan still managed 31 goals. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/NHLI via Getty Images)
With Rick Nash now off the trade market, the focus of the summer rumor mill has shifted to Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan.
It's been more than a month since Ryan, 25, vented his frustration over his name constantly appearing in trade rumors involving the Ducks last season.
He hasn't raised the issue since, nor has Ducks GM Bob Murray, who claimed he would speak with his unhappy sniper.
That could mean the two sides have cleared the air, though if that were the case, one would assume Ryan or Murray would've informed the press by now.
If anything, the silence from the pair is stoking speculation Ryan is available.
There's been no shortage of stories throughout July regarding teams thought to have interest in him.
The Philadelphia Flyers were reportedly pursuing Ryan around the draft, but the Ducks’ supposed asking price of centers Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn was too steep.
The Buffalo Sabres, linked to the Ducks right winger last fall when both clubs were struggling, were also thought to be a suitor.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun claimed Ryan “is being shopped and would like to be dealt,” adding he'd “caught the eye of the Senators,” though Garrioch suggests it would be best if they wait until a new labor agreement is in place.
The San Jose Sharks were also linked to Ryan, but it's unlikely Murray would ship him to a division rival in the same state.
Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register, meanwhile, posted a collection of links to hockey blogs tying Ryan not only to the Flyers and Sabres, but also the Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.
If Murray is indeed shopping Ryan, he may have been waiting for Nash to come off the trade market to increase interest in the perennial 30-goal scorer, thus upping his trade value.
Trading Ryan for a defenseman is a possibility, but the Ducks added Sheldon Souray in the off-season to replace Lubomir Visnovsky, who they shipped to the New York Islanders during the draft. And if Visnovsky's efforts to overturn his trade are successful, Murray won't have any reason to seek an additional defenseman.
As Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News pointed out, the Ducks will want one or two forwards.
Obviously, they wouldn't get a player as good as Ryan, but if the rumored asking price of Couturier or Schenn from the Flyers is anything to go by, they'll want one who has potential to become a top line forward.
Ryan lacks a no-trade clause, which gives Murray more options than the Columbus Blue Jackets had with Rick Nash.
A potential downside, however, is the three years at an average annual cap hit of $5.1 million remaining on Ryan’s contract. Teams with limited cap space would want the Ducks to take some salary back.
It must also be remembered Murray isn't in any hurry to move Ryan, even if the winger were to step up trade demands. The start of the season is more than two months away - longer if there's another lockout - giving Murray plenty of time to gauge the market for the right return.
Indeed, the Ducks could start the season with Ryan in the lineup and if by mid-season it appears they'll miss the playoffs again, Murray could peddle him leading up to the trade deadline.
Of course, this is assuming Murray intends to move Ryan.
Until Murray or Ryan clears the air over the latter's status, expect the trade speculation to carry on throughout the rest of the off-season.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.