Heading into the season, General Manager Steve Yzerman’s focus was to bring in the right mix of veterans to help the younger Red Wings grow. In the same breath, it was also to add potential trade chips that would help build more for the future. By that definition, Bobby Ryan can be considered Yzerman’s best signing of the 2020 offseason.
Bobby Ryan’s Rebound Year
Bobby Ryan’s last few years have been tumultuous, to say the least. Ryan was bought out of his lengthy contract with the Ottawa Senators during the 2020 season, as the Senators looked to take a further step in rebuilding.
After the buyout, the 33-year-old vet opened up about his struggles with alcohol , saying that much of the end of his time with Ottawa was marked with relapses into alcoholism. Ryan announced he was entering into treatment for his addiction to get his career and life back in order.
Following the buyout, Ryan’s goal was to find the right team to stabilize his career. When asked about why he chose the Red Wings over other suitors, Ryan told reporters two words: Steve Yzerman. After over a year of sobriety and a successful first half of a season, he seems to have found that stability with the Red Wings.
Ryan’s Individual Success
Bobby Ryan’s rebound has been quite the story in Detroit thus far. His points per game have increased from .3 in 2020 to .5 in 2021, and he’s been an upbeat personalty for many of the younger players worn down by habitual losing during the 2019-20 season. Nothing shows that more than one of his postgame interviews during one of his first games as a Wing:
The right winger has found a comfortable place on Detroit’s second line, developing noticeable chemistry with fellow second liner Robby Fabbri. At 33, Ryan has been Detroit’s most productive player at the halfway point, leading the team in both goals (6) and points (13).
Bobby Ryan’s individual success has improved a team that needs his leadership and production desperately.
Veteran presence is key for a team in the midst of a rebuild. Young teams need older players to help develop in such a competitive league, and Head Coach Jeff Blashill adheres strictly to this philosophy (evident by the number of older players constantly in the lineup). However, Ryan has something the other vets in the lineup don’t – production. He has significantly more points than any other vet on the team, providing a rare combination of efficiency and leadership.
Detroit isn’t the only team that sees Bobby Ryan as a valuable asset. Among the many trade rumors surrounding the Red Wings, Ryan’s name consistently comes up. His $1 million contract provides an inexpensive addition to a team looking to make a deep playoff run this year. His veteran experience and production could be just what a team needs to hoist the Stanley Cup.
In a year altered completely by COVID-19, it’s hard to say what kind of value Detroit could get by dealing Ryan by the deadline. But if rumors are true, there could see a bidding war by the deadline.
Bobby Ryan continues to prove himself in Detroit this year, an inspiring feat after the last few years of substance abuse struggles. The signing of Ryan has not only helped the short term success of the team, but might also prove to help the future of the Detroit Red Wings rebuild.