The Detroit Red Wings signed winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1 million deal at the open of free agency.
The 33-year-old has the distinction of being the first player chosen after Sidney Crosby in the 2005 Entry Draft. Originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, he spent six seasons with the Ducks before he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in the summer of 2013. Ryan has spent the last seven seasons with the Senators, including their run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2017 where he recorded 15 points in 19 games.
In his prime, Ryan was a top-tier power forward in the NHL, maxing out with 71 points in the 2010-11 season with the Ducks. Since then, he has seen a fall from grace, followed by a shift in public perception of him.
With 555 points in 833 regular-season games, Ryan has seen his role decrease over the years as he battled inconsistency, as well as other outside forces. He lost his mother in 2016, and he wrote a touching tribute to her in the Player’s Tribune. This likely fed into his struggle with alcoholism that led him to a triumphant comeback this year.
The native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey opened up this year about his struggles with mental health and alcoholism. After failing to live up to a monstrous contract the Senators gave him in 2015, Ryan felt the pressure of the situation, leading him to some dark places.
Despite this, his openness about his situation allowed him to help others in a similar situation.
“I’ve said, if I am going to do this, I am going to do it in the public eye and be candid with it,” he said. “Some of the most rewarding things have been people that have reached out on social media, Instagram or whatever it might be, sending me private messages. And I am able to pay it forward by helping them. Some I’ve helped find treatments. Some I’ve helped have the right conversations.”
His efforts to combat this disease of alcoholism earned him the 2020 Masterton Trophy for his perseverance and commitment to hockey.
Fit With the Red Wings
As far as the Red Wings are concerned, Ryan addresses a need in their lineup: right-handed forwards. He should be able to move up and down their lineup depending on injuries, as well as provide an example for the young players the Red Wings are building around.
On a one-year deal, Ryan should be a prime candidate for the Red Wings to move at the 2021 trade deadline if he performs well for them. If this experiment doesn’t work out, the deal isn’t cost-prohibitive and doesn’t carry an overbearing term. This deal gives the Red Wings options heading into the 2020-21 season.
Ryan hasn’t averaged over 16 minutes of ice-time since the 2016-17 season with the Senators. That shouldn’t change with the Red Wings, but he should be able to play throughout their lineup. This is a prototypical “veteran comes to play with the kids” move for Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. Chances are that similar moves are on the horizon.