The people wanted a bit of a splash, so to speak, and Joe Nieuwendyk delivered in the form of Michael Ryder, Stanley Cup Champion with the Boston Bruins who despite scoring 17 points in 25 playoff games was let go into the UFA pool. The contract is a reasonable two years (particularly in this climate) and is valued at $3.5 million per season. He turned 31 years of age in March.
This signing is a curious one because three years ago in the infamous off-season of 2008 following the Dallas Stars ride to the Western Conference Finals it was thought that the departure of Niklas Hagman and his 27 goals warranted a right wing UFA to replace him and many fans had their sights set on Ryder. Brett Hull and Les Jackson famously went for Sean Avery instead and the rest, as they say, is history. This time around Ryder is a Star, though with another 235 games (plus playoffs) on the tires.
He has proven himself to be a 30 goal man in the past, but his production has slipped in the last two years and 20 goals seems like a better estimate moving forward, but his aforementioned playoff numbers this year show what he can still do at the highest level of competition in this league.
Ryder played with Mike Ribeiro in Montreal during the 2005-2006 season when each were just starting out, and it's possible, given Ribeiro's well known affinity for right handed shots on his line (something lacking in Dallas in recent years), that the two could be reunited with Brenden Morrow out there making the space. Other possibilities include on a line with Benn and Eriksson.
Either way it diminishes the question mark surrounding what Radek Dvorak's role is going to be and inserts some scoring into the top six. There is some question as to whether his skills are on the decline after two 18 goal seasons but that is the risk that Joe Nieuwendyk is apparently willing to take, and at only a two year deal, it's a reasonable one.
The Stars also, while Michael Ryder party was starting, signed depth center Jake Dowell to a one year, $800k deal.
Which leaves just a defenseman still on the shopping list for Joe Nieuwendyk, and depending on how far above the cap floor they're allowed to spend, somewhere between $1.5 - $2.5....$3.5?? million to spend. No one is quite sure.
Welcome to Dallas, Mr. Michael Ryder.