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UFA Option: Michael Ryder

After three straight 25-goal, 55-point+ seasons, Michael Ryder slipped to 14 goals and 31 points. A healthy scratch repeatedly during both the regular season and playoffs, he will not be tendered an offer by the Canadiens, and may be of interest to the Oilers. A persistent rumor around the 2008 trade deadline was Ryder to Edmonton for Jarret Stoll, although I can't comment on how much basis that had in reality.

Ryder averaged 11:01 at even strength and 2:07 on the powerplay (along with a few seconds shorthanded) in 2007-08, as opposed to 11:35 at evens, 0:48 shorthanded and 3:52 on the powerplay in 2006-07. More interesting, his points production at even strength dropped from 22 in 06-07 to 18 in 07-08, but he played 12 fewer games and averaged half a minute less per game, meaning that his points/60 actually went from 1.40 to 1.40! In other words- despite a 27 point drop, Ryder was just as effective at even strength scoring in 2007-08 as he was in 2006-07.

There is also some evidence that Ryder was actually more defensively effective at even strength this season as well. In 2006-07, Ryder faced the 9th most difficult minutes among Canadiens forwards with more than 20 games, and his team was outscored at a 2.25 GFON/60, 3.58 GAON/60 rate. This year, Ryder was in a tie for the 2nd most difficult minutes, and his team's GFON/60 rate went up slightly to 2.38, while the GAON/60 dropped to 2.62. While +/- isn't an entirely accurate measure of defensive performance, a goals against drop of .98/60 minutes of ice time is certainly indicative of something.

Having established that Ryder was not just as good, but actually better 5-on-5 in 2007-08, the cause for his decline in production becomes obvious- the powerplay.

Ryder had 34 powerplay points in 317.34 minutes of powerplay time in 2006-07, wile he notched 13 in 151.9 minutes in 2007-08. This works out to a points production decrease from 6.43/60 minutes in 2006-07 to 5.14/60 in 2007-08. Incidentally, in the same time span, team performance on the powerplay with Ryder on the ice went from +9.08 (the best number in the league in 2006-07) to +8.45 (2nd on the team only to Alex Kovalev). Given that those numbers happened on the league's best powerplay, they need to be taken with a grain of salt, but in both cases Ryder is obviously an excellent powerplay specialist. In point of fact, that's what his niche is at the NHL level- he's as obvious a powerplay specialist as there is in the league.

Ryder is almost certain to take a pay cut on the UFA market; and frankly I think the Oilers should look long and hard at signing him. Does he fill a vital team need? Not really. Consider, however, that his points/60 is better than every Oilers powerplay regular other than Ales Hemsky. He's only 28 years old. He's depreciated in value, despite being an almost identical player in terms of production; the only significant statistical difference between a good 2006-07 and an awful 2007-08 was ice-time. Play him maybe 10 minutes a night at even strength, and pop him on the first powerplay unit. He can be a useful asset going forward, and a cheap asset to boot, and that's something this team could really use. I sincerely hope that Michael Ryder is a player of interest to the Oilers.