You can bet Bob Murray hasn't forgotten.
Last June, one of the Ducks general manager’s more skilled players, Bobby Ryan, told the hockey world he wanted out of Anaheim, suggesting the National Hockey League team didn't want him for the long term.
"Anaheim to me has been a team over the past year that really has shown me nothing to prove that they want me here," the left-winger told the New Jersey-based Courier-Post at the time. "I don’t care. Move me."
That time may well have come, despite Ryan’s backtracking a couple of months later when he called his initial comments "a mistake and a slip up on my part." In the past 10 days, Murray has signed top scorers Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to eight-year contracts.
Highest paid NHL duos (2013 season)
- Evgeni Malkin/Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: $17.4M (28 per cent of payroll)
- Alex Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom, Washington: $16.238M (26 per cent)
- Rick Nash/Marian Gaborik, NY Rangers: $15.3M (22 per cent)
- Eric Staal/Alexander Semin, Carolina: $15.25M (26 per cent)
- Vincent Lecavalier/Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay: $15.227M (24 per cent)
Next season, Perry’s cap hit will be $8.625 million US while Getzlaf will come in at $8.25 million. For a team whose payroll is $56.15 million this season, according to capgeek.com, that's quite a chunk of change.
Furthermore, the Ducks already have $53.4 million tied to 16 players for the 20013-14 campaign when the salary drops from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, so they’ll have to free up payroll for other signings by moving someone.
The 26-year-old Ryan is third in team scoring this season with 22 points in 28 games for a 0.79 average (his career mark is 0.78) but he’s slated to make $5.1 million in each of the next two years, more than anyone on the Anaheim roster not named Getzlaf or Perry.
Last summer, Murray traded defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders, saving the Ducks $3 million in salary and erasing a $5.6 million salary cap hit.
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada believes Murray couldn’t have traded Perry before the NHL's April 3 deadline with the 20-3-4 Ducks second in the Western Conference, or worse, allow him to walk as an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
"Imagine you're Bob Murray," Friedman wrote in his blog at CBCSports.ca. "You just watched your most hated rival [the Los Angeles Kings] win the Stanley Cup. You explode out of the gate [this season], creating excitement among your fan base.
"What are you going to do, give up? Quit on a potentially magical season, right after a lockout? It just wasn’t an option."
Under their new deals, the combined yearly salaries of Perry and Getzlaf total $16.875 million, which would rank second in the league this season next to Pittsburgh's 1-2 punch of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who make $8.7 million apiece for a total of $17.4 million.
Like Anaheim, the Penguins have more than $53 million (53,698,333) committed to 16 players for next season, so the thinking is GM Ray Shero might be forced to deal Kris Letang, the current scoring leader among NHL defencemen this season, to keep Malkin and Crosby. Letang is due $3.5 million next season before he's eligible for free agency.
Washington's Alex Ovechkin ($9.538 million) and Nicklas Backstrom ($6.7 million) combine to make $16.238 million this season on a team that could let forward Mike Ribeiro ($5 million) walk as a free agent in the summer.
In New York, Rick Nash ($7.8 million) and Marian Gaborik ($7.5 million) are the third-highest paid duo in the league this season at a combined $15.3 million, or about 22 per cent of the Rangers’ payroll of $68,755,851.
Rounding out the top five is Eric Staal ($8.25 million) and Alexander Semin ($7 million) in Carolina ($58,009,916 payroll) and Vincent Lecavalier ($7.7 million) and Steven Stamkos ($7.5 million) in Tampa Bay (64,413,451).