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About Last Season: Derek Ryan Performance Review and Grade

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In another contract year, Derek Ryan improved his numbers again, but is it enough to get him another extension?

Jamie Kellner

Derek Ryan: 2017-18 By the Numbers

  • Age: 31
  • NHL Seasons: 3
  • Games Played: 80
  • Scoring: 15g-23a-38pts
  • Ice Time: 15:36 all situations, 13:12 ES, 2:01 PP, 0:22 SH
  • 5-on-5 stats: 56.96% CF, 43.69% GF
  • Contract Status: UFA; completed one-year, $1,425,000 contract

Making the Grade

Derek Ryan has had the most unique path to the NHL of any active player in the league. Ryan started his career with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL, but after four years in the CHL and with no NHL interest he went to college. He spent his next four years in the Canadian collegiate system, and after graduation he turned to Europe.

In the 2014-2015 season, Ryan won the Golden Helmet as the Swedish Hockey League’s most valuable player. For the first time in his career, he was receiving realistic looks to play for an NHL club. Ryan signed a one-year $600,000 contract with the Carolina Hurricanes the following season.

Ryan moved his way up to become an every day NHL player early into the 2016-2017 season before being part of the main roster for the 2017-2018 season. He spent the year centering the third line with Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak, as well as serving as the center of the second power play unit.

Evaluating Ryan’s play is tough when you look at his numbers he had the seventh most points on the team with the eighth most goals and assists. Ryan played a majority of the season on a line with Jeff Skinner who had the second most goals on the team with 24. Playing with a great goal scorer is going to inflate your points.

The first reason being if you have a goal scorer on your line, there is a great chance you are going to be one of the last two people that touch the puck before it goes in. The secondary effect of the defense cheating towards the skilled player allows other players in the line to have more space. Just think of the effect that Sidney Crosby has on his below average linemates.

His biggest strength is that he’s not scared to get into the dirty zones. On a team that has issues being physical, hes not scared to go to the front of the net or battle along the boards. He has driven offense by digging pucks out and dishing them to the slot and by cleaning up rebounds in front of the net.

The issue with Derek Ryan is that he is a small forward that doesn’t necessarily have the speed or the hands to make up for his lack of size. There are a lot of times that he is able to get bodied off of the puck. As a center, his role is also to get in front of the net, but without the size, he doesn’t become a pesky presence. This also affects his defense.

When you look at his Corsi it’s good - really good. In fact, his 56.96 is 14th best in the league. But when you combine this with a 43.69 gf%, something is clearly wrong. How can someone who is on this ice in the offensive zone for nearly 60% of the time be on the ice for more goals against than goals for by that much of a margin?

Ryan had the fourth most giveaways out of the forwards, with 48, which also led to a lot of goals and opportunities for the opposition. His lack of size allows him to be pushed off of the puck easily and his passing isn’t envied around the league. The forwards above him were Justin Williams, Jeff Skinner, and Sebastian Aho. Two of those are the leading goal scorers and are the most aggressive players on the team.

You’re much more likely to put up with the bad when you get that much production.

That’s what sums up Derek Ryan’s game. His stats show that he’s a center that drives offensive possession, not one that is solid in both zones. Without offensive production, his mistakes and the gaps in his defensive game don’t make up for what he can produce.

Ryan is now a UFA, and honestly, I could see him back with the team for another season. Prospect Martin Necas may or may not be ready to take over as a full-time center in the NHL and Victor Rask struggled this year. Ryan could slot in on the fourth line and be fine. Aho, Jordan Staal, Victor Rask/Elias Lindholm, and Ryan would be the ideal top to bottom with the current roster.

Both Lindholm and Rask have much higher ceilings both offensively and defensively. Where the team can benefit is having a guy who’s not scared to bring the energy every time he is our and get in the corners and hang around the net. Having a 15 goal scorer on the fourth line would be more than acceptable.

Ryan could try to test the market, or he could sign another one-year deal for around $1 million to stay with what he knows. The biggest factor in the team’s success and his success is being put in an energy line role and not in a scoring line with Jeff Skinner or on the power play.

We just need a coach that we can trust to make those decisions.