Derek Ryan (City-Press/Getty Images)
The Colorado Avalanche are reportedly the frontrunners to land last season’s Swedish Hockey League MVP Derek Ryan. Ryan led the SHL in scoring last season with 15 goals and 60 points in 55 games and is also being pursued by the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs. However, it’s believed the Avalanche are negotiating a two-way deal with the center.
Steve Moses made his mark in the KHL last season and landed himself an NHL deal with the Nashville Predators for 2015-16. Now, it appears center Derek Ryan, who was the SHL’s leading scorer this past campaign, may follow suit as the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs are pursuing him.
According to The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, those three clubs are the ones still, “in the mix,” for Ryan, but it’s believed that the Avalanche are the frontrunners. Chambers reports that Ryan and the Avalanche are still in the negotiating stage of the contract, but that, if worked out, Ryan could land himself a two-way deal for 2015-16.
Interestingly, if the deal is a one-year for little more than league minimum, it would almost exactly mimic the one handed to Moses by the Predators. Even as the KHL’s leading goal-scorer – he also set the record for goals in a regular season with 36 goals in 60 games – Moses’ one-year deal is worth $1 million. However, Moses was given a one-way contract, meaning if the Predators choose to waive him, other NHL clubs would have the chance to pick up his salary. For Ryan, a two-way deal would mean being waived could lead to spending time in the AHL.
Last season with Orebro, Ryan, 28, notched 15 goals and 60 points, beating out former NHLer Jeff Taffe by a single point to claim the Swedish league’s scoring title. Prior to last season, Ryan notched 38 goals and 84 points in 54 games in the Austrian league, the second best point total in the league. For his efforts in the SHL last season, Ryan picked up awards as Forward of the Year and league MVP.
Before landing overseas, Ryan suited up for four seasons with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs and for four campaigns with the University of Alberta. He was passed over in the draft more than once and, should he land an NHL deal, would be making it to the big league the unconventional way as an undrafted free agent who made his mark in Europe.
At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Ryan doesn’t have the biggest frame, but he has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson. If Ryan comes over to the NHL and produces at even half the level of Johnson, it would be a savvy signing by whichever club lands the free agent pivot.