Bobby Ryan signs 7-year blockbuster deal, is actually staying in Ottawa

 (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

How many of us saw Bobby Ryan signing a 7-year contract extension to remain an Ottawa Senators star?

That he wouldn’t head over to South Jersey, where he grew up, and sign a deal to skate with Claude Giroux next summer? That he wouldn’t find a way to get back to California, where he loved to play as a member of the Anaheim Ducks? That the ultimate decision wouldn’t be to remain with a franchise in transition, and one that’s had its share of budget constraints in recent years under Eugene Melnyk?

Surprise: Seven years, $50.75 million, announced on Tuesday.

“He is truly the type of player we want to build our team around," said the owner.

Let that number sink in: $7.25 million for Bobby Ryan annually, who made $5.1 million against the cap last season. He’s brilliantly talented and just 27 years old. And now he’s making $250,000 against the cap less than Steven Stamkos. Well, for now.

Is he worth it? As they say: Like politics, all contracts are local. This was GM Bryan Murray’s response to the changing times in Ottawa, coinciding with the end of the Daniel Alfredsson era and Jason Spezza’s time with the Senators. They anted up with a significant package of players and a first-round pick.

For appearances alone, they had to retain him. Not just for the fans, but for the rest of the League: Suddenly, Ottawa has cornerstones in Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan. And in the latter case, it’s a player that could have left but choose Ottawa. Sure, it was for the money, and that’s the other aspect of its impact: Cash-strapped, frugal Ottawa, who nickel-and-dimed their captain out of town last summer, just made Bobby Ryan a $50-million player. Pay attention, agents of North America and your clients...

So whether he’s worth that money is almost immaterial, but you know what you get with Ryan: Around 0.70 points per game, an upside of 30 goals. He’s a sniper that can make his center look better, rather than needing an elite one to thrive. His power play numbers have always been inexplicably low, and while he’s a big body he’s not exactly Milan Lucic with the physicality.

Why did he stay? A little love goes a long way.

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Ryan thanked the Senators for “believing in me a year ago to bring me here" and "believing in me to sign me for the next seven years.”

You can't discount that. He played in the shadow of two other stars in Anaheim. He might have done the same in another city, like Philadelphia with Giroux. In Ottawa, he's the man. He and Captain Karlsson (named today, by the way) run that town. It's their team. And for a player like Ryan who was looking for that chance to shine on his own, it's something that undoubtably attracted him to Ottawa long-term.

Well, that and $50.75 million. That helps.