Former Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan hasn't faced any NHL opponent more times in the regular season than he has the Sharks. But now that he's a free agent, might he end up playing for them?
Ryan, 33, is an unrestricted free agent after his contract was bought out by the Senators on Saturday. The 13-year NHL veteran has tallied 254 goals and 301 assists across 833 career regular-season games, and though he no longer is the scoring threat that he once was, he could be appealing to San Jose.
The reigning Bill Masterton Trophy winner -- given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey -- was limited to 24 games this past season after taking an extended leave of absence in November to join the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program due to alcohol abuse. He scored a hat trick in his first game back, and was regarded as a great teammate and leader during his time in Ottawa.
In addition to the experience and scoring potential he would bring to San Jose, he checks another box that could pique the Sharks' interest. He's a right-handed shot on the right wing -- characteristics the Sharks definitely could use more of.
Outside of Timo Meier, the Sharks don't have a proven right winger guaranteed to be on the ice for the first game of next season. Kevin Labanc (restricted) and Stefan Noesen (unrestricted) are free agents, and though both probably will return, there are numerous question marks behind them. That might explain why The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported Tuesday that San Jose already has "checked in" on Ryan.
The Sharks currently don't have the financial wiggle room to add a significant salary, but Ryan's next contract isn't expected to break the bank. And, given that the Senators will pay him $1.83 million over the next four years as part of the buyout -- not to mention the $4 million they owe him in signing bonuses -- he might be willing to take less than his market value for a shot at the playoffs.
San Jose must patch several holes in order to re-establish itself as a postseason contender. Ryan would fill one of them.