Philadelphia Flyers: Is 2021 the year Bobby Ryan finally comes home?

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Is there a better feel-good story in the NHL today than that of Detroit Red Wings winger Bobby Ryan?

Since opening up about his woes with addiction during the 2019-20 season – winning the Masterton Trophy for his courage – Ryan has looked much more like the player who dominated in Anaheim after being drafted second overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft – scoring four goals in each of his first four games with Detroit.

Ryan is skating freer, taking better shots, and just looks like a different player than the man who’d consistently watched his playing time dip with each passing season in Ottawa.

Heck, Ryan is even keeping up his fisty ways, as he leads the Red Wings in penalty minutes at 17 despite having missed one of the team’s five games.

While I imagine Ryan would happily finish out the season in Detroit playing under head coach Jeff Blashill, and would maybe even sign a long-term deal to remain in the Motor City indefinitely, something tells me that’s not how things are going to go down.

No, with the Red Wings all but surely expected to finish out the season as one of the worst teams in the NHL Central Division and Ryan’s contract only for one year at a very reasonable $1 million, it seems only natural to assume that he’ll surely be moved before the trade deadline to bring back an asset from which GM Steve Yzerman can use to rebuild into the future.

But who could trade for Ryan’s services? Well, if history is of any indication, there’s one team in particular who seems like a natural fit.

Is 2021 the year the Philadelphia Flyers finally land Bobby Ryan?

After coming out of the gate to a pair of commanding wins versus the most-hated Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers have hit a bit of a rough patch – earning three points in four games with their lone outright win coming against the Buffalo Sabres in a game without Carter Hart in goal.

While the team can hang their collective helmets on being undermanned – with Morgan Frost on IR with a shoulder injury, Shane Gosterber on the COVID list, and Phillippe Myers out with a fractured rib – the Flyers’ issues are far more indicative of bad play, ineffective performances, and inadequate effort.

Did I mention the Flyers are lousy? Okay, cool. Just wanted to make sure that intent came across.

More from Puck Prose

Despite possessing one of the deepest forward groups in the entire NHL, the Flyers are getting outscored 20-9 by the opposition over the past two series against the Sabres and Boston Bruins, and failed to score more than a goal in two of those contests.

Needless to say, this isn’t the start Flyers fans were hoping for after an effortless win on opening night, and the team’s brass would be wise to try to do whatever is at their disposal to get things back on track in a brutally competitive East Division.

Let’s just say when the Flyers are only one point above the New Jersey Devils with two games against the team up next on the docket, we are very much approaching an all-out revolt down Broad Street if things don’t turn around in a hurry.

Why not try to pull off a trade and see if Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan can come in and add a little extra pop to the left side of Alain Vigneault‘s line? The Wells Fargo Center is only 13.9 miles west of Cherry Hill, so Ryan wouldn’t even have to pay the toll to go home over the Ben Franklin Bridge. Think about the savings.

Outside of the seemingly always hot Kevin Hayes, an ascending James van Riemsdyk, and Travis Konecny – who padded his stat sheet with a Game 2 hat trick – the Flyers only have one other player, Oskar Lindblom, who has scored more than one goal. Ryan, again, has four goals in four games in a middle-six role playing 14:52 a night – not exactly a meaty role, but he’s clearly making the most out of it.

While his exact positioning and role on the team are far from defined, it could be as high as the second line or as low as the fourth depending on how the Flyers opt to formulate their line, Ryan’s interest in playing for the Flyers is anything but, as he’s been linked to the team on numerous occasions since making his way from the OHL to the NHL in 2005.

From initially requesting a trade back the Delaware Valley in 2012 while still with the Ducks to calling the idea of playing for the Flyers ‘very high on my list’, Ryan has not so secretly pined over the idea of wearing an orange and black jersey a la his namesake (not really) Bobby Clarke.

Pair Ryan up with a passer like Jakub Voracek and he very well may score 30 points in this abbreviated season – a mark he hasn’t hit since 2011-12 – all the while selling more number 54 jerseys than any 33-year-old mid-season acquisition has any right to.

Even now, you’ll surely find someone on Twitter tweeting some version of “Bobby Ryan to the Philadelphia Flyers” – or ya know, writing 1,000 words on the subject just for kicks.

Next. Grading the blockbuster Laine, Dubois trade between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets. dark

Would acquiring Bobby Ryan at this point in the NHL season make sense for the Philadelphia Flyers? Eh, maybe. They’d probably be better off waiting until the deadline to see how things play out first, but after watching the Winnepeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets pull off a humungous deal involving two household names, such a move is not without precedent. And honestly, why wait when it’s clear the Flyers could use the help as soon as possible? Need proof? Just ask Carter Hart’s stick, which got absolutely obliterated after dropping a game 6-1 to the Bruins.