Rumor Roundup: Will Bobby Ryan be the next Senators player to leave?

Bobby-Ryan Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Bobby-Ryan Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The departures since last summer of Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators prompted ESPN’s Craig Custance to suggest Bobby Ryan could be next to leave town. Custance notes Ryan, 27, is entering the final season of his contract at an affordable cap hit of $5.1 million. He becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen recently reported the Senators opened contract talks with Ryan and fellow 2015 UFAs Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot. Of the trio, Ryan will be the most difficult to re-sign.

The rebuilding Senators took a step back in their development last season, Ryan’s first with the club. The loss of Spezza via trade and Ales Hemsky to free agency makes Ryan their top scoring forward. How the Senators perform this season could influence his future plans.

Another factor will be Ryan’s asking price. He’ll have a golden opportunity to cash in via free agency, where he could be the best available player. It could cost the budget-conscious Senators more than $7 million per season on a six- to eight-year deal to keep Ryan in Ottawa.

It’s also believed the Senators were working on a deal for another forward around the time they dealt Spezza to the Stars. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed the deal was either shelved following the Spezza trade or moved to the back burner for now. He also reports winger Colin Greening and Erik Condra are available.

COULD O’REILLY REMAIN AN AV LONG TERM?
The Colorado Avalanche last week avoided salary arbitration with winger Ryan O’Reilly, re-signing him to a two-year, $12-million contract. Avalanche vice-president of hockey operations Joe Sakic quickly dispelled the notion it was a “sign-and-trade” deal, telling The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater they still hope to eventually re-sign O’Reilly to a long-term deal.

The Avalanche were willing to come up from their initial offer of $5.525-million annually, paying O’Reilly as much per season as their highest-paid player (Matt Duchene), while O’Reilly’s camp was willing to come down from their original demand of $6.75 million.

Previous negotiations between the two sides were contentious, leading to a standoff following the 2012-13 lockout and a two-year, $10-million offer sheet from the Calgary Flames, which the Avs matched. Dater suggests this 11th-hour compromise this season bodes well for future contract negotiations between the two sides.

NIEMI STAYING AFTER ALL?
Earlier this summer there was talk the San Jose Sharks were shopping starting goaltender Antti Niemi, but it appears that’s no longer the case.

CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, responding to a reader’s question on the subject, believes if the Sharks were planning to move Niemi they would’ve done it earlier in the off-season. Kurz now believes they will start with their existing tandem of Niemi and Alex Stalock.

Niemi will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Kurz believes its possible several clubs could seek a starter or a backup at some point this season. If Stalock outperforms Niemi, the latter could become a valuable bargaining chip near the trade deadline.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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 and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.