Ducks patient with Ryan

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Bobby Ryan doesn't want to end up the answer to a sports trivia question.

What player was chosen second to Sidney Crosby in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft?

While Crosby rocketed to superstardom immediately after being selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan has yet to live up to his potential.

But the native of Cherry Hill, N.J., is getting there.

Heading into last contest against the Edmonton Oilers, he had 10 points in 14 games.

"Bobby has been very good," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.

"The expectations on him were very high from the standpoint that we thought he would be able to play with (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry. That didn't really pan out.

"But we took another review of it and said when we brought Getzlaf and Perry into the league, they played on the fourth line. They also got second power-play unit time, so maybe we should reassess how we're going to go forward with Bobby Ryan."

SCORING SENSATION

A scoring sensation in junior, Ryan had 37 goals and 64 assists in 62 games as a 17-year-old with the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League.

That summer he was selected by the Ducks ahead of players such as Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, San Jose Sharks winger Devin Setoguchi and Los Angeles Kings centre Anze Kopitar.

Ryan, 21, returned to play another two seasons in Owen Sound, scoring 43 goals and adding 59 assists in 63 games in his final year of junior.

Last season Ryan split his time between the Ducks and their AHL affiliate in Portland, Me., collecting 10 points in 23 games with the Ducks and 49 points in 48 games with the Pirates.

"Being the second pick in that draft is something that's always going to follow me," Ryan said yesterday.

"I don't feel pressure from the coaching staff and the guys in this room. I think everyone in this room will tell you everyone is their own worst critic."

Expected to make the team out of training camp, the Ducks had to send Ryan down to their new AHL affiliate in Iowa due to salary cap issues at the start of the season. It was a tough pill to swallow.

"Absolutely, especially after the summer that I put in and then the team giving me every indication that I wasn't going anywhere," Ryan said.

"But you move on quickly, you go down, you don't sulk, you do what you have to do down there.

"They told me they would find a way to solve things. From what I understand, they were getting close to solving it without (defenceman Francois Beauchemin) going down.

"It's too bad having to come up under that circumstance, but at the same time I felt like I belonged here from the start."

Ryan has four goals and six assists since being called up in mid-November. A roster spot opened up when Beauchemin went down with what could be a season-ending knee injury.

Ryan's currently being used on the fourth line with Ryan Carter and George Parros.

"That's allowed him some freedom," Carlyle said.

NO PRESSURE

"He's doesn't have the pressure of having to go out there and perform and get that big goal for us every night. And he also doesn't have to up against the best checking lines in the NHL, as Getzlaf and Perry do."

The line has been productive of late. Prior to last night, the trio had nine points in their previous five games.

"It's a different role, absolutely," Ryan said. "But it's something you have to embrace, you have to conform because you are in the NHL and you have to do what you are asked to do.

"Whether it's a temporary thing or a mainstay for me in the long run, I don't know. But for now, I feel like I'm somewhere in the grooming process.

"That's how the coach feels it's best for me to come along, so who am I to feel any differently."

The Ducks would like to see Ryan develop into a top-line player, hoping some of his scoring exploits from junior transfer to the NHL level.

The fact he's yet to become a dominant force has brought the Ducks some criticism. Even Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe used it as ammunition in his public spat with then Ducks general manager Brian Burke this summer.

"All that other stuff that comes up in the media, I will leave it on the backburner and not worry about it," Ryan said.

"Sidney Crosby is an exception; he's been incredible in everything he's done and is obviously great for the game."


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