Mar 20, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Michael Ryder (73) and left wing Loui Eriksson (21) celebrates his second goal against Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (not pictured) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Michael Ryder came to the Stars on the heels of a 41 point campaign with the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. The "spending spree" that brought Ryder to the Stars was an attempt to add some badly needed depth to the roster. In Ryder the Stars wanted to see if they could find a budget-friendly top six scoring option. Almost miraculously they picked up a 35 goal scorer. Needless to say, it was money well spent even if Ryder regresses next season.
The 2012 season is in the books. No one will be able to question the offensive production Ryder contributed to the 2012 Stars. 2013 is another question though. The Stars are in a unique roster construction state. They're entering their first offseason after being sold with four consecutive playoff-less seasons. They have money, and they have some very good young talent. They're neither rebuilding or "going for it". They are in the process of identifying core pieces for the next several years, but they have enough talent to compete for the back end of the playoff standings as presently constructed.
Is Michael Ryder one of those core pieces? It can be a troubling question to consider because of how productive he was in 2012. The question then is what can be reasonably expected out of Ryder going forward? If the Stars have reason to believe that his production will regress significantly next season, and they are offered a package that treats Ryder as a well-above average goal scorer they would be well within the bounds of good judgement to take the offer. There is ample evidence that Ryder will in fact see a drop in production for the 2013 season. After the jump we'll look at the evidence and ultimately come to the conclusion that the Stars should be trying to sell high on their top goal scorer from 2012.
The first thing we should recognize is how good Ryder was for the Stars in 2012. At even strength Ryder scored 1.43 goals per 60 minutes of ice time. Only Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, and Max Pacioretty were better in the entire NHL. He was 20th in the NHL in points per 60 minutes, tied with Loui Eriksson (Jamie Benn was 4th). Ryder produced significantly more for the Stars in 2012 than he did for the Bruins.
That's a huge jump in production per 60 minutes which eliminates one potential strike against Ryder. He saw three minutes more per game in 2012 compared to 2011. Ice time can obviously greatly influence point totals. In Ryder's case he was significantly better every time he was on the ice this past season with the Stars than he was in his final go around with the Bruins. We can, however, explain part of the improved production on the fact that the Stars signed him specifically to fill a top six role.
OZ%: Offensive Zone Start%; QoC:Quality of Competition; QoT: Quality of Teammates
With the Stars Ryder was able to see slightly more time in the offensive zone. He had to fight through a much higher level of competition, but he also played with significantly better teammates as a member of the Stars top six after being in a supporting role with the Bruins. There is nothing really earth shattering about any of that information. Those role changes made an impact, but not enough of one to propel him to a starring role in the NHL. The last pieces of the puzzle we can look at are Ryder's shot rates.
SF/60: Shots With Ryder On Ice Per 60 Minutes At Even Strength; S%: Shooting Percentage
As you can see Ryder actually took shots on net as a slower pace than he did with the Bruins. The problem is the set of numbers in the final column. Ryder saw his shooting percentage jump up 53%. Ryder's career shooting percentage is 12.6%, but the last two years he has hovered around 10%. In 2012 it jumped to 16.6%. His shooting percentage is very likely to drop significantly next season. Assume that Ryder takes the same amount of shots next season (211, his highest total since 2007). If his shooting percentage drops to his career average of 12.6 the Stars are looking at a loss of nine goals down to 26. If it were to drop to the level of the previous two seasons the Stars have a 21 goal scorer on their hands.
That may seem like a ridiculously large drop, but it's very realistic when you consider Ryder's career. In his career before this past season he averaged 78 games played and 25 goals. In the four years before coming to Dallas he averaged 19 goals per year. The range or 21-26 goals doesn't sound so far out of left field anymore, does it?
What do the Stars do though? As it stands, without losing any of their top six forwards, the Stars can reasonably expect to begin the season trying to make up a nine goal deficit at a minimum. Everyone seems to expect the Stars will be active this summer. They should also be creative.
As bleak as the offense looked at times in 2012 they do have some offensive talent coming. Reilly Smith, Alex Chiasson, and Austin Smith were excellent in the NCAA last year. Matt Fraser scored at will for the structure-less Texas Stars. I don't know that the kids are fully ready for prime time, but how much of a stretch is it to think that one of the four could score 20 goals as a rookie? They can survive the loss of Ryder's expected 2013 production with the kids coming up while addressing areas of need via a trade of a valuable commodity.
Shopping Ryder isn't the easiest decision, or the most conventional. Teams that struggle to score generally don't ship their leading scorer off unless they're rebuilding. The Stars aren't rebuilding, but they can't reasonably expect Ryder to be the leading scorer of a 2013 playoff team either. The Stars should identify him as a valuable player, but not as an untouchable core piece. It's very possible, even likely, that no other team would view him as a core piece either. Everyone loves goals though, and Ryder has 35 to his name in his most recent campaign. If the Stars want to chart a bold course of action they should kick things off by putting Ryder on the block.