Bobby Ryan gets professional tryout with Detroit Red Wings: Why it makes sense

Detroit Free Press

Bobby Ryan was hoping for another shot with the Detroit Red Wings; now he has a chance to make it happen.

The 34-year-old signed a professional tryout deal a day before players are to report to Traverse City, where training camp will run Thursday through Tuesday. Ryan played for the Wings last season, but his seven goals and seven assists in 33 games were fewer than what the team had hoped he’d contribute. Ryan missed the last month of the season with a triceps injury that required surgery.

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Ryan was part of the best story coming out of camp, when he, Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina hinted the Wings might, finally, have a second line capable of contributing offensively. Fabbri and Zadina were among five Wings who had to be quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 in the opening week, but Ryan fared well in their absence: He scored in his first game, twice in his second, and again in his third.

Then the goals stopped coming. Ryan didn’t score again until Feb. 19. His last game was March 28.

He was a no-risk signing by general manager Steve Yzerman, inked for one year, $1 million. When the season ended, Yzerman opted not to bring back Ryan.

Now the 2021-22 season is edging closer, and Ryan, the second overall pick in 2005 (Sidney Crosby went No. 1) is looking for work. He’s been vocal about how much he loved, even briefly, being in the Detroit area and playing for the Wings, an Original Six franchise. He was popular with the teammates, who appreciated Ryan’s embrace of being a mentor.

Can Ryan find a way to earn a job? Maybe. He’s a big (6-foot-2, 208-pound) forward who shoots right. He’s good at creating scoring opportunities, and wily around the net. That didn’t translate into many points last season, but he is savvy with the puck.

Yzerman signed Pius Suter in free agency, adding to a top six that includes Fabbri, Zadina, Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana.

Sam Gagner, another former high-end draft pick who shoots right, was re-signed in July. Others who will vie for spots in the bottom-six mix are returning players in Vladislav Namestnikov (who is coming off a very disappointing season), Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Adam Erne.

Joe Veleno, a 2018 first-round pick who played five games for the Wings last season, should push for a spot, and then there’s Lucas Raymond, a first-round pick from 2020, and Jonatan Berggren, a second-round pick from 2018.

It looks like a crowded field for Ryan to try to elbow his way into, but there’s no risk in giving him a chance.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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