Toronto Maple Leafs acquire defenceman Ryan O’Byrne

There is a long history of defencemen who played alongside Andrei Markov, played well next to him, got a good free agent deal and were set for life.

Ryan O’Byrne is the first two of those things, by that he is a defenceman, and he played alongside Andrei Markov. He did not play particularly well alongside Andrei Markov and the Montreal Canadiens traded Ryan O’Byrne before he even got to free agency.

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired that defenceman Wednesday afternoon.

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The acquisition cost is not bad. O’Byrne cost a fourth round pick, per Darren Dreger. O’Byrne is a right-handed defenceman who can play 19-20 minutes a night. He’s been a prototypical 2nd pairing defenceman for a poor defensive team in Colorado the last two-and-a-half seasons, is offensively limited and is a rental this season.

O’Byrne is a warm body to slide into the lineup. He can potentially play some minutes with left-handed Dion Phaneuf or Carl Gunnarsson, but has some notoriously poor possession stats. Him and Jan Hejda last season saw the tough minutes for the Avalanche, and both players played significantly better when apart from each other, facing “non toughs”.

In the 2011 season, O’Byrne actually played alongside John-Michael Liles. The two were negative possession players, but again, those Colorado teams were not adept on defence and Liles-O’Byrne did see some of the tougher competition. Given how limited he is on offence, playing him in hard defensive situations is all that’s available. That’s a good second-pairing player and probably an upgrade over Mike Kostka from that standpoint as far as right shots go.

To summarize: Ryan O’Byrne is unspectacular, but useful. He can play on the 2nd or 3rd pairing. He makes the defence better if he replaces Kostka or Fraser. He will probably leave after this season.

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Hilarity: There’s also the incident that occured back when he was with Montreal when he stole a purse.

Update: The Internet’s @wayne_chow reminds me of this. Honestly, though, it could have happened to anybody:

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  • KadrupulTheScoring

    Nice article. Didn’t really know anything about O’Byrne before, so this was informative.

    Question about this:
    “That’s a good second-pairing player and probably an upgrade over Mike Kostka from that standpoint as far as right shots go.”

    What makes you say he’d be an upgrade over Kostka? Just curious about the stats you looked at.

    • Minutes and Corsi Rel QoC, the second of which is an indication of player usage.

      Roughly, O’Byrne has played against roughly 2nd liners throughout his career, and the fact that coaches keep giving him minutes is a sign that he’s pretty good at it. Kostka has shown to be pretty adept at handling third liners and definitely can’t handle 1sts.

      If Kostka were a few years younger, I may lean to him on the basis of potential. Either way, I think both should be in the lineup.

  • Jess Taylor

    I haaaate this guy. My team in the West is the Blackhawks, and in just two games this year he managed to 1) break Sharp, 2) break Hossa and just for kicks 3), crosscheck Saad in the face, and be punished for none of it. Plus concussing Stalberg a couple of years ago and boarding Kane every chance he gets. He makes stupid, dangerous choices, picks up idiotic penalties (at least when he’s not playing Chicago, grrr), causes unnecessary, avoidable injuries and is just crap with the puck, to boot. I was so happy when I heard he was out of the WC and away from my team, only to find out he’s on… my team! Argh! The worst!

    Okay, not Kipper “the worst,” but still, worst!