When a coach or general manager joins a new team, often a few players from their previous tenures end up following. We’ve seen some of that with players like Mike Smith and Michael Stone being brought in to Calgary last year.
So with Bill Peters coming to the Calgary Flames, is it inevitable that a Hurricane or two follows him? I think that answer is yes, and that player is Derek Ryan.
Ryan would provide an immediate boost to the Flames bottom six as a right handed shooting centre who can win faceoffs, play well defensively, and also put up some points.
Ryan has been a journeyman for most of his career, finally breaking into the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season at the ripe age of 29. His hockey career started in the WHL with his hometown Spokane Cheifs and happened to be coached by Peters for a couple years there.
He then spent four years playing for the University of Alberta before spending four years in Europe. Finally he entered the Hurricanes organization in 2015-16, playing for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers before making the NHL full time in 2016-17.
Since entering the NHL, Ryan has had a pair of successful seasons, putting up 29 points in 67 games and 38 points in 80 games. His CFRel% stats were the best among Hurricane regulars last year.
The most important thing he could bring to the Flames is his ability to consistently win faceoffs, something Calgary has sorely lacked for as long as I can remember. Last year Ryan won 56.5% of his faceoffs, and 55.3% the year before.
By comparison, the best Flames center in the faceoff circle during the last two years was Sean Monahan’s 51.4% in 2016-17. In fact in the last decade the highest faceoff percentage a regular Flames centre has had was Matt Stajan’s 51.6% in 2010-11.
Last year Ryan centered the third line on the Hurricanes with Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak on the wing. He also centered the second powerplay unit. Some Hurricanes fans weren’t particularly thrilled by his usage under Bill Peters and if he came to Calgary we may get some of the same questions.
Here is a review of his strengths and weaknesses from Canes Country.
“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.”
After how poorly the Flames bottom six played in 2017-18. adding Ryan would undoubtedly provide a boost, but it would be important to ensure he has some supporting linemates who can help him out defensively if needed.
Ryan would fill some of the holes that Flames had last season such as in the faceoff circle and producing some bottom six points. Another positive is that he could come in quite cheap for the Flames. The downside is that the Flames already have quite a few middle/bottom six forwards and adding Ryan could further clog things up, however having some competition is never bad.
Given how Peters has talked about him so candidly, and the plethora of opportunities he was given in Carolina, having Derek Ryan come to Calgary Flames may simply come down to waiting until July 1st.
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