All through the Rick Nash trade saga, Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan was described as "Plan B" for a team that missed out on the chance to bring in the Columbus Blue Jackets' franchise player (along with Zach Parise, who signed with the Minnesota Wild on the fourth day of free agency).
That ship has now sailed, and with the exception of the New York Rangers, who introduced Nash on Wednesday at their training facility in Westchester County, it's time for Nash's suitors to change course and look to Ryan, who has four consecutive 30-goal seasons under his belt, is three years younger than Nash, and comes with a much more affordable salary cap hit.
But which of Nash's erstwhile suitors - the San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings - makes the most sense as a destination for Ryan?
Philadelphia makes the most sense on a number of levels. The Flyers made a play for Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber when they signed him to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent, but came up empty-handed when the Predators opted to match the deal. That news came just a day after they watched the Rangers bring in Nash, and there's clearly pressure to keep up with their Atlantic Division rivals. The addition of Ryan would certainly fit the bill, as he would likely flourish alongside a center like Daniel Briere, and he also happens to be from the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, N.J., a nice bonus considering the Flyers traded away Middletown native James van Riemsdyk earlier this summer. It's uncertain exactly what the Flyers could or would offer for Ryan - a defenseman would likely be involved - but if they were in the mix on Nash, they should be able to put together a package to bring in Ryan.
The Red Wings had pieces to offer for Nash, and a Nash-to-Detroit deal was enough of a possibility that fans and local media in Columbus begged general manager Scott Howson not to do it. The Red Wings have had an underwhelming summer, failing to land a player who could soften the blow of Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement. However, the Red Wings face a similar problem with Ryan that they faced with Nash: Anaheim's price will likely be higher for a Western Conference rival than it will be for a team in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings have coveted a spot in the East for some time (particularly with the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg last year), and this is one of those times they could certainly stand to be in a different conference. Still, with the Red Wings needing to make a move, expect them to give Ryan a look. The Sharks, on the other hand, aren't a likely destination, being a Pacific Division rival of the Ducks.
Don't be surprised to see Ryan stick around Anaheim in the end, either. This isn't a situation where Ryan has demanded a trade (a la Nash), or where he's lost his spot on the team and in need of a new home. The Ducks have hit a rough patch, missing the playoffs in two of the last three years, but even with the loss of top prospect Justin Schultz, they still have a promising crop of youngsters in the pipeline, led by Rickard Rakell and Kyle Palmieri. General manager Bob Murray isn't trading Ryan unless he gets a great offer, so the question now is whether he'll get one.