Derek Ryan: Back with the Edmonton Oilers or gone in 2023-24?
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
The Oilers have gotten considerably better at finding quality depth players since Ken Holland arrived in Edmonton four years ago.
Among Holland’s success stories when it comes to bottom-six contributors is Derek Ryan, an cheap, under-the-radar addition that came during an off-season in which the Oilers handed out multiple big contracts.
Ryan was coming off of a difficult season with the Calgary Flames and signed a two-year deal with the Oilers worth $1.25 million annually to move to the other side of the Battle of Alberta. During the course of that contract, Ryan scored 23 goals and 19 assists for the Oilers over 155 regular season games and put up an on-ice goal differential of 64-to-61 at even strength.
The former University of Alberta Golden Bear is again a free agent this summer but many signs point to him being back with the Oilers in the fall.
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Projecting Derek Ryan’s next contract and whether he’ll sign with the Oilers…
Derek Ryan has taken a very interesting path to reach where he is now and his journey was recognized this year when he was named Edmonton’s nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Ryan played three seasons with his hometown Spokane Chiefs despite not being selected in the WHL’s bantam draft and he was recruited by the U of A Golden Bears after his major junior career came to an end. Ryan planned to become a pharmacist after he graduated but opted to continue his hockey career in Europe.
He played one season in Hungary, two in Austria, and one in Sweden before signing a one-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. He made his NHL debut at the age of 30 during the 2015-16 season and became a full-time player with the Hurricanes the following season.
The 2017-18 season saw Ryan break out with 15 goals and 38 points over 80 games with Carolina. That performance earned Ryan a three-year, $9.375 million deal with the Flames in free agency. His first two years in Calgary were successful but Ryan scored only two goals in 43 games with the Flames during the shortened 2021 season.
Ryan opted for a change of scenery following that season. The Flames and Oilers offered him the same contract in free agency in the summer of 2021 and he chose Edmonton, which is a decision he looks back upon fondly.
“I’ve had that conversation with my agent, with my dad, my wife, my kids, with everybody close to me in my life about how that was a hard decision,” Ryan told Bob Stauffer back in May. “I had the same contract offer to stay in Calgary but I chose to come here. That’s never an easy choice, but I couldn’t be happier with my choice to be here. I’d love to finish my career here.”
Things got off to a slow start for Ryan in Edmonton but he found his groove when the Oilers fired head coach Dave Tippett and replaced him with Jay Woodcroft. Ryan scored three goals and six points in 40 games with Tippett and improved to 20 goals and 36 points in 115 games with Woodcroft. He also posted the fifth-highest on-ice goals for percentage of any Oiler since the coaching change.
The Oilers will undoubtedly be interested in re-signing Ryan given his performance and the player has already expressed a clear interest in coming back. Given he’s now 36 years old, a one-year deal seems like the most obvious path forward, but a two-year deal with a lower average annual value could work for both sides.
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