Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season or were with the team at the end of the season (and are still with the team at this time) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
#73 / Right Wing / Dallas Stars
Mar 31, 1980
|2011 - Michael Ryder||82||35||27||62||17||46||7||0||6||211|
Key Stat: 35 goals - The Stars brought Ryder in to be a goal scorer, and boy did he deliver. The sniper set a career high in goals and regained his 30-goal form that he hadn't seen for several years. Some of that was rekindling a chemistry with former Montreal teammate Mike Riberio, and a lot more of it was a wicked, wicked shot that could be unleasehed from practically anywhere. When writing up best free-agent signings of the summer, his goals make him easily near the top of that list.
The Good: Those goals. On a team that struggled mightily to score at times, Ryder was their most consistent sniper. Seriously, you can't ask more from a pure goal scorer than a career high. He tied for 11th in the league with goal scoring, though nowhere close to Steven Stamkos and his insane 60. That scoring also helped him in the even-strength goal differential category, and he finished a very respectable plus-17.
The Bad: Ryder was definitely streaky, though personally I felt he contributed more than other notorious streaky wingers in recent years when on a cold skid. That said, like most of the Stars other big-time difference makers, he went stone cold down the stretch when the team desperately needed somebody to step up and take the team on his back. He also made several very costly defensive errors down that stretch. Finally, he only picked up 10 points, including seven goals, on the Stars woeful power play.
Bottom Line: Ryder is a one-trick pony, but it's an incredibly valuable trick. It was the best goal production by a UFA signee ever, even better than one Brett Hull. Combine that with a very affordable $3.5-million cap hit for another season, and there's not much to complain about from an offensive standpoint. His biggest weaknesses are in his own end, but when a guy scores 35 goals, you'll take that.
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