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Bobby Ryan was officially sent packing Saturday.
The paperwork for the buyout of the final two years of the $14.5 million left on his contract was completed by the Ottawa Senators when he cleared waivers at noon.
Yes, the decision by general manager Pierre Dorion and the hockey staff to move on from the final two years of Ryan’s contract — which includes $4 million in signing bonus — came as a surprise, but this organization is doing a complete rebuild and he was the last remaining player from the roster that went to the 2017 Eastern final.
“This was a decision that required a lot of consideration,” said Dorion in a statement Saturday. “Bobby’s long been a deserving fan favourite in Ottawa. While we’re appreciative of his efforts on the ice, it’s outweighed by how proud we are of him for the courage that he has demonstrated off of it.
“As we continue to take strides in our rebuild, this decision was one that we felt was best for the organization. We wish he and his family the best as he moves forward.”
This is just one in a series of moves we can expect from the Senators with the NHL draft set to be held virtually Oct. 6-7. With three picks in the first round — including the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 28 selections — along with 13 overall, Dorion is open for business and is listening to all offers in an attempt to bolster the roster.
Yes, the Senators have four picks in the second round of what’s considered a strong draft, but that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination Dorion is going to move all of them to get immediate help. The expectation is Ottawa may use one or two of those picks to get players if the offer is right.
Looking at the depth chart there’s no shortage of needs, but the expectation is the No. 3 overall pick _ whether it’s Tim Stuetzle of Mannheim (DEL) or Quinton Byfield Sudbury (OHL) — may make the roster, this season From there, the club needs depth up front and Ottawa has been digging around on the goalie market.
Dorion confirmed in a conference call Wednesday that Anders Nilsson (concussion) hasn’t been on the ice since February. The Senators are confident he’ll be able to play whenever next season gets under way, but in some ways it feels like a situation that changes daily and that could push the club to get a goalie.
There are a number of options available with the likes of Carolina’s Petr Mrazak or James Reimer, Toronto’s Frederik Anderson, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper available. The Senators likely don’t want a long-term solution because they’ve got six goalies in the organization.
It’s believed goaltending is among the areas Dorion is kicking tires on at the moment but he did state he’s still confident Nilsson will be ready to start the season.
Up front, the Senators will sign restricted free agents Connor Brown, Anthony Duclair, Nick Paul, Filip Chlapik and Rudolfs Balcers in the coming weeks Negotiations are taking place with all of those players and one way or another they’re all going to be in training camp.
Decisions have to be made on whether forward Jayce Hawryluk and blueliner Andreas Englund are going to get qualifying offers.
The futures of unrestricted free agents Matthew Peca, Ron Hainsey and Scott Sabourin are unknown. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hainsey return because he brings a veteran presence.
Moving Ryan out means not only will defenceman Thomas Chabot and winger Brady Tkachuk be expected to take on more of a leadership role, prospects like Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, Josh Norris, Vitaly Abramov Logan Brown and Chlapik need to look at this as a big opportunity to see time in the NHL next season.
The club will also study the free agent market and the Canadian-based pro scouts will be in town next week.
“First, and foremost, we’re going to look internally at what we have,” Dorion said Wednesday. “If a free agent does make sense we’re going to look at that possibility.”
The decision to buyout Ryan was difficult. The 33-year-old was acquired July 5, 2013 from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade made the same day Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Ryan had 107 goals and 289 points in 455 career games with the Senators.
He left the club last November to enter the NHL/NHLPA Players’ Assistance program and returned to the lineup in February with a three-goal effort against the Vancouver Canucks. He revealed when he rejoined the team he entered the program because he was battling alcoholism.
Ryan told his story publicly because he wanted to help others and earlier this month he won the Masterton Trophy which is handed out annually to the player who shows perseverance and dedication hockey. He was disappointed by the decision but understands the direction this organization is headed.
“They’ve got a group of young players and they’re going to do well,” Ryan said a telephone interview Friday with Postmedia. “I was hoping to be part of it for a couple of seasons anyway. Those kids have a lot of talent and they want to have success.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020