Say this about Bobby Ryan — he isn’t afraid to speak candidly.
In an engaging and wide-open interview with Eric Stephens of the OC Register, the Anaheim winger answered questions about his season, his future and the next step in his career.
Ryan’s answer to the latter was really interesting and gave insight to the Ducks’ pecking order.
“My next step ultimately would be to break away from Getz [Ryan Getzlaf] and Pears [Corey Perry],” Ryan said. “I think we’ve had chemistry. But at some point, you’re going to have to prepare for life after Teemu [Selanne]. I’d like to fill into that role and have that second line be built. I think I can step into Teemu’s role. I think I can put up 35 to 40 goals year in and year out.
“Personally on the ice, I’d like to be able to break games open a little more. Sometimes when I play with Getz and Pears, I get the feeling like I’ve got to be a secondary guy.”
Now, let’s be clear — this wasn’t Ryan asking out of Anaheim, or to be freed from the shadows of Getzlaf and Perry. But it definitely was about him being the go-to guy on his own line rather than the third option behind the reigning league MVP and a two-time All-Star.
“The opportunities for me to break away from it and try to give us a secondary scoring option on another line, it’s working right now,” Ryan continued. “When those guys [Selanne and Saku Koivu] leave, we have to build a second line. I’d like to do it around myself and be able to make adjustments to my game.”
Again, not a wild or crazy thing to say…but certainly candid. Getzlaf is one of the premier setup men in the business and a big reason why Ryan is on pace for his fourth consecutive 30-goal season. So why is Ryan pushing to get off Getzlaf’s wing?
I suppose this could genuinely be about improving the team. Anaheim’s long thought to be too top-heavy and lacking depth at forward, so in that light Ryan’s initiative to “build a second line” is admirable. But there’s also the fact that, last year, the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line carried Anaheim to fourth in the Western Conference and Perry’s Hart Trophy win.
Will the Ducks really want to break that up?