The Edmonton Oilers have continued their parade of moves on the opening day of free agency. Frank Seravalli reported that the club had signed former Flames forward Derek Ryan to a two-year deal worth an AAV of $1.25 million.
Ryan picked up 13pts in 43 games with Calgary last season and spent the majority of the year as their third-line pivot. His arrival checks off another need for Ken Holland this summer.
The club has been chasing an experienced third-line centre for the better part of a decade now. Kyle Turris was last year’s failed experiment and there appears to be some hesitancy to give it to Ryan McLeod.
There isn’t much to dislike about the contract. The term and AAV are low enough that it won’t burden Edmonton’s ability to manoeuvre in the future. He has also shown a lot of ability as a two-way forward, something Edmonton’s bottom six has been starved for.
The expectation is that Ryan will help bridge the gap until McLeod can successfully transition into the 3C spot. He also provides another PK option for Tippett, which we all know is something the coaching staff values highly.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I haven’t been a huge fan of Holland’s work today. I disagreed with just about every single move, save for Hyman, but I honestly can’t knock him for this one.
Ryan is a fantastic bottom-six player and the fact that he was able to get him under $1.5 million is encouraging. One thing that is for certain is that the bottom-six forward group is shaping up to be a lot better than last year.
His fancy stats support this analysis.
Derek Ryan, signed 2x$1.25M by EDM, is a strong defence-first two-way bottom-six forward who played very well in third line minutes before getting his minutes cut last season. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/WDG7xlRwoL— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 28, 2021
Overall, Ryan and Foegele will bring some much-needed competency at even strength. Combine that with the possibility of one or more of Dylan Holloway, Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, and Ryan McLeod taking a step forward and you have a pretty nifty forward group in the making.
We’ll see if this improvement upfront can make up for newfound deficiencies on the backend.