The experts, myself included, scoffed July 1 when the Boston Bruins not only decided to sign Montreal Canadiens castoff Michael Ryder, but threw a three-year, $12 million deal at the winger whose production had dropped from 30 goals to 14 in the course of just one year.
Well, consider Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli vindicated with that deal and the rest of us just measly crow-eaters. Sure, $4 million per season might be a little rich for someone of Ryder’s abilities in the salary-cap era, but the Bruins needed to add scoring — and that’s just what Ryder provided. While he didn’t reach that 30-goal plateau, he came close enough. And he proved to be a better player in his own end than most expected. Best of all, he proved the hated Habs wrong.
Stats: 74 GP, 27-26-53, 26 PIM, plus-28 regular season; 11 GP, 5-8-13, 8 PIM, plus-4 playoffs.
Contract status: Signed through end of 2010-11 at $4 million cap hit.
Season highlight: He claimed it wasn’t personal, but if you believe that I have a bridge I could sell you. Ryder wanted to beat Montreal in the first round of the playoffs more than any other member of the Bruins. And he did everything in his power to make sure the Habs were vanquished in four straight. Two nights after he scored the game-winner in Game 3, Ryder scored his first of two goals in Game 4 late in the first period to tie the score and set up David Krejci’s go-ahead score later in the opening stanza. For the series, Ryder finished with 4-3-7 totals.
Season low light: Ryder suffered through a two-goal-in-22-games stretch to start his stint with Boston, but that pain paled in comparison to the pain that resulted from an Antoine Vermette high stick Feb. 5 in Ottawa. The Bruins’ winger suffered fractured bones in his orbital region and missed seven games. He regained his scoring touch as soon as he got back in the lineup, but Ryder’s face will never look the same.
In summation … Ryder provided decent bang for the Bruins’ buck once he was paired up with Krejci and stopped trying to do too much.
Grade: B-plus. The Bruins could’ve used a better start from Ryder and needed him to do better than zero goals against Carolina.
The crystal ball says … Ryder will be under some more pressure when next season starts and the Bruins are missing Krejci and Phil Kessel. It’ll be up to Ryder to forge chemistry with another centerman (Marc Savard?) and make sure the team doesn’t suffer too much on the attack.