When restricted free agent Bobby Ryan's contract negotiations with the Ducks hit a midsummer snag he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Ryan, so eager to stay in Anaheim that he discouraged teams from sending him offer sheets, wanted to hit the free-agent market in 2013 with teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Ducks hoped to avoid that squeeze by securing Ryan for five years — but not for more than Getzlaf will earn.
After getting assurances from Getzlaf and Perry that they're happy here, Ryan kick-started talks with Ducks General Manager Bob Murray before Labor Day. The result Tuesday was a five-year $25.5-million contract that will pay Ryan $3.25 million this season and $5,625,500 the final four seasons. In 2011-12 and 2012-13 Ryan will be the team's second-highest-paid forward, behind Getzlaf's $5.75 million and $6.125 million.
"I think the biggest thing for me was trying to figure out where those guys were going to be moving in three years," Ryan said during a conference call. "And after speaking with those guys, that they're both committed to this team and this organization, I felt a lot better doing a five-year deal."
Ryan, 23, scored 66 goals the last two seasons and won a silver medal with the U.S. team at the Vancouver Olympics. If he had gotten the three-year deal he could have broken the bank with a few seasons like that or better. Murray knew it.
"I think it was critical to get five years. He's a really good young hockey player and part of our future — a big part of our future," Murray said. "So I was always trying to get to five years and I understood exactly what they were doing. Like three years and if he gets 30-some, 40-some goals the next three years, I understand that, too. But it's all part of the process and we were just going to wait."
Ryan wanted to stay with the Ducks enough to compromise.
"We spoke to Bobby a couple times down the stretch. I just reached out to him and said history is not on the side of the guy sitting out a little bit," Murray said. "Guys sit, it's not good for the team or the player and Bobby's become a good team guy. He understood that and he was pushing to get this done as much as I was."
Ryan spent most of the summer in Newport Beach, working out with teammates. He didn't have his usual summer weight gain and can report to camp Friday in Anaheim in prime shape.
"This summer was just about putting on some size in some areas and getting a little more fluid on the ice, and I think I achieved both those things," he said. "I feel great right now."
Although Murray said he feels comfortable with the current roster, he has been looking to solidify an iffy defense corps. He has been talking to free agent Paul Mara, 31, who had eight assists in 42 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season
Players are due to report for physicals Friday and begin practices Saturday.