Puck Daddy - NHL

The news over the weekend that the Anaheim Ducks and winger Bobby Ryan(notes) have put their contract talks on hold was naturally going to lead to speculation that he'll be on next summer's Brian Burke free-agent buffet, and the Toronto Star didn't disappoint.

Ryan's an RFA next summer, looking for a raise after his entry level contract expires. He's followed his Calder-quality rookie campaign with 15 points in 21 games this season; a decent total on a disappointing hockey team, but no where near the pace of linemates Ryan Getzlaf(notes) (22 points) and Corey Perry(notes) (27 points, and a criminally underreported 14-game scoring streak that has him tied for fifth in the League in points.)

But as an RFA on the team that drafted him, Ryan's leaving Anaheim doesn't seem all that likely, as least to someone following the Ducks from the other coast. That was until OC Register columnist Randy Youngman dropped this nugget at the end of a column on Sunday night:

If the Ducks continue to struggle, most likely trade bait will be forward Bobby Ryan, who has been inconsistent this season (15 points in 21 games) after contending for NHL Rookie of the Year honors last season.

Trade bait? When Anaheim Calling did its "who are the scouts looking at on the Ducks?" post last week, Ryan's name didn't come up. The notion that the Ducks would move him, even as their season slips deeper into mediocrity, hasn't exactly been voiced all that often -- well, until now.

Still, the suggestion gets you wondering ... would the Ducks be better off trading Ryan, with his value still relatively high and before having to commit significant salary (and years) to a player that's gone from failing to meet expectations to becoming a future NHL start to failing to meet expectations again?

If the Ducks need to seriously retool, is trading Bobby Ryan one way to dramatically achieve that goal?

It's hard to see Ryan leaving the Ducks for financial reasons. But we're sure the same was said about Chris Pronger(notes) as some point in the recent past, too ... and now he's on the verge of an "historic" Norris Trophy bid.

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