Leading up to July 5th, the first day of NHL free agency, we will be profiling various free agents that we believe the Predators could or should pursue. Today we continue with Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Ryder…
Position: Right Wing
2012-13 Stats: 46 GP, 16 G, 19 A, 35 PTS, +2
2011-12 Stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 27 A, 62 PTS, +17
Previous Contract: 2 years, $7 million
Projected Cap Number: From $3.5-4.5 million
Why the Preds should pursue: Outside of Jarome Iginla, the best goal-scorer that hits the open market might be Michael Ryder. He has scored 30-plus goals three times in his career and, as the Predators have seen firsthand in recent years, is a player that can score any time the puck is on his stick. Ryder is the owner of one of the best wrist shots in hockey. He has been durable throughout his career, too, as he has only missed 27 games over his nine NHL seasons. He also has a Stanley Cup ring, which is always valuable to a locker room.
Why the Preds shouldn’t pursue: The biggest question is how many years does Ryder want on this contract? If he asks for three or four years, what will his production be like at 36 or 37 years old? He’s a better short term option than long term. Outside of his goal-scoring, he doesn’t bring much to the table. He’s not physical and is inconsistent defensively, which could be a concern for the Predators brass if they were to make a long-term commitment.
Where he would fit: Though Ryder would give the Predators an excess of wingers who favor the right side, they can definitely find a place for his goal-scoring abilities within the top-six. He could skate on the first power play unit and rack up 50-plus points, essentially replacing Martin Erat’s offensive production.