It wasn’t that Michael Ryder was a total bust as a member of the Canadiens, although his playoff disappearance might further define the world “disappointment.” Michael Ryder did what the Canadiens wanted of him. He scored ten goals and twenty-one points in 27 regular season games. He came to the Canadiens on the verge of his third career unrestricted free agency in return for Erik Cole who has is going hit the Dallas Stars salary cap for 4.5 million dollars for each of the two remaining years in his contract. Not only was Cole an inherited millstone for general manager Marc Bergevin but he was playing badly and continued to do so for Dallas with 6 goals and an assist in 28 games.
What Ryder didn’t bring was defensive responsibility on a regular basis. He was minus-2 in his 28 games even while playing for the most part with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta neither of whom will ever be accused of shirking their defensive duties. There are also issues of his speed which is average at best While the Canadiens would like get a little more size among their forwards, they don’t want to commit long term to size while sacrificing the speed that has been the hallmark of Canadiens teams for decades.
Ryder came to the Canadiens in the final year of a pro-rated 3.5 million dollar annual contract. An argument could be made that a Canadiens contract like that might be a fair deal on a short term basis. But, the last time Ryder played a full season he scored 35 goals. He was on track for close to 30 goals again this season had things not been short circuited by the lockout.
So what we have is an unrestricted free agent who has three 30-goal seasons in his background; is an average skater, has size that he doesn’t use to his advantage and has a tendancy to take the night off every once in a while. For all of the above, there will be NHL general managers who will offer a four or five year contract at 5 million or more per season.
Marc Bergevin won’t be one of them for most of the above reasons.
In six months with three deft moves, Marc Bergevin will have managed to clean up the residue of the Gainey/Gauthier era by first buying out Scott Gomez, trading Cole and in two weeks buying out Tomas Kaberle, thus taking an annual 16.1 million dollars off their salary cap.