The Ottawa Senators hope to re-sign Bobby Ryan, but it could prove easier said than done. 

Can the Senators re-sign Bobby Ryan?

Can the Senators re-sign Bobby Ryan?

NHL.com: Chris Lund reports Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray definitely hopes to re-sign Bobby Ryan, who is entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Murray said they’ve spoken at length with Ryan’s representatives, and believes discussions will continue when Ryan reports for training camp.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren reports recently-re-signed Senators forward Clarke MacArthur hopes to convince Ryan to stay with the club. “He’s a natural, he’s a player we want on the team,” said MacArthur. “If I can nudge him to stay, I’m going to try.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Warren observes, a deal for Ryan won’t come easily or soon. Ryan will be among the best players potentially available in next summer’s free-agent market. If the trend of teams re-signing their stars before their UFA eligibility continues, Ryan could become the top player available next July.

Ryan will have numerous suitors willing to pony up lucrative long-term contract offers to obtain his services. He’s currently earning an annual cap hit of $5.1 million and is a four-time 30-goal scorer. A strong performance in his contract year could see Ryan land a five-to-seven year deal worth upwards of $8 million per season.

Some of you will scoff at that, but I remind you never to underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to overpay for free-agent talent, especially if the salary cap significantly rises next summer. Trust me, it will. The combination of the NHL’s new Canadian TV deal combined with its annual Stadium series pretty much assures it. 

 In recent years the Senators became a budget club which doesn’t keep pace with the rising cap ceiling. They could have a difficult time scraping up the coin to retain Ryan long term. 

Another factor will be the Senators performance this season and the front office’s plans going forward. Another poor season, or one where they’re a marginal playoff contender, won’t help their case. Neither will being unable to invest in the kind of talent necessary to become a perennial playoff contender.

 Ryan could prefer to head to a club which not only pays him top dollar but is also either a Cup contender or on the verge of becoming one. That’s difficult for a budget team like the Senators to achieve. While I hate to be pessimistic, I think we’ll see Ryan on the trade block by the March trade deadline.