With news out of Anaheim indicating that the Ducks are looking for offers on 2005 #2 overall pick Bobby Ryan, a lot of NHL fans are starting to salivate about the idea of adding a potential 30+ goal scorer to their ranks.
The downside, if you're Scott Howson (or 28 other GMs) is that Ryan doesn't come cheap in any sense - the 24 year old winger is in the first year of a new 5 year, $26 million dollar deal, and the Ducks are reportedly looking for high caliber NHL defensive help in exchange.
Making life even more complicated are reports that Anaheim GM Bob Murray is stuck behind a tight budget - Anaheim currently sits ~$3.7 million under the salary cap, and are unlikely to want to take on much more cash.
So, if the Ducks really are willing to move Ryan in an attempt to shake up their locker room, could Columbus make them an offer? I think there are a couple of scenarios that could work.
Option 1: There's More Than One Kind of Defensive Help
While Anaheim wants to fix their defensive woes, there's more to defense than just the blue line - and Columbus could well offer former Duck Samuel Pahlsson as a possible answer. Though Pahlsson has been inconsistent in a shutdown role here in Columbus, he seems to finally be settling into Scott Arniel's system and showing the impressive defensive play that made him a big part of the Ducks' Stanley Cup run.
Pahlsson would also be a significant in-season savings, plus will be a UFA at the end of the year to allow Murray and the Ducks more salary flexibility as they decide how to address the issues within their roster. He also fills a big void of experience in their bottom six that's currently forcing the team to rely on more of their depth than they appear comfortable with.
Option 2: Tyuts
Though Columbus just signed Fedor Tyutin to a new six year extension, the blueliner could be seen as a quality defensive answer for the Ducks, and at a cost savings over Ryan. With a reliable (if not explosive) offensive ability and a strong defensive pedigree, Tyutin could be seen as a fill in for the injured Lubomir Visnovsky, and a long term replacement in the Ducks top six for Francois Beauchemin, a UFA who appears likely to be on his way out of Orange County after this season.
The cost to Columbus would be heavy, and would mean re-shuffling the defensive pairings again, but the offensive pop might well be considered worth it.
Option 3: Grab Bag
Columbus has a variety of players that could be politely referred to as underachieving this season, and it seems entirely possible that Howson and Murray could gamble on changes of scenery making an impact for players involved in the deal.
A move that sent Anaheim Derick Brassard and Matt Calvert, for example, would provide the Ducks with renewed speed and some solid scoring punch, but also allow them to fill in through the lineup where needed to help augment the loss of Ryan, and still provide long term cap relief.
Antoine Vermette's name has also been frequently mentioned in trade rumors, and would provide a versatile forward capable of stepping in at the wing or center, potentially offering a role similar to Pahlsson for the Ducks but at a younger age and signed to a reasonably friendly deal compared to Ryan's salary.
In all honesty, it's likely that Murray will look at his options and elect not to move Ryan, particularly if the Ducks can find some footing over the next several games, but the possibilities are there, and it would be interesting to see what, if anything, may come of it, especially if Scott Howson decides no price is too high in trying to turn the Blue Jackets around.