Rarely does a player have a spike in production during their early thirties, but that is exactly what happened with Michael Ryder in 2011-12. Ryder potted a career-high and team-leading 35 goals this season, nearly doubling his goal totals from the previous two years with Boston.
Ryder arrived in Dallas as a free agent signing last summer in a move that most people didn’t give a second look. The 2011-12 campaign however was Ryder’s best since his rookie season with Montreal, and he made Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk look like a Ken Jennings clone.
You wouldn’t necessarily think leaving the star-studded Bruins for Dallas could jumpstart a scorer’s touch, so why was that the case for Ryder? Well, there were several contributing factors that helped the right winger from Newfoundland exceed expectations.
Although Ryder moved from the Bruins to the Stars, he was sitting fairly low on the food chain in Boston. Have a look at where he sat in 2010-11 as far as scoring lines went in Beantown.
|1||BOS-HORTON,NATHAN - BOS-KREJCI,DAVID - BOS-LUCIC,MILAN||107|
|2||BOS-BERGERON,PATRICE - BOS-MARCHAND,BRAD - BOS-RECCHI,MARK||58|
|3||BOS-CAMPBELL,GREGORY - BOS-PAILLE,DANIEL - BOS-THORNTON,SHAWN||23|
|4||BOS-BERGERON,PATRICE - BOS-HORTON,NATHAN - BOS-LUCIC,MILAN||20|
|5||BOS-BOYCHUK,JOHNNY - BOS-CHARA,ZDENO||16|
|5||BOS-CAMPBELL,GREGORY - BOS-MARCHAND,BRAD - BOS-THORNTON,SHAWN||16|
|6||BOS-RYDER,MICHAEL - BOS-SEGUIN,TYLER - BOS-WHEELER,BLAKE||13|
|7||BOS-RECCHI,MARK - BOS-RYDER,MICHAEL - BOS-SEGUIN,TYLER||12|
|7||BOS-FERENCE,ANDREW - BOS-MCQUAID,ADAM||12|
Ryder was stuck mainly with Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin, which brought minimal production. If he was playing alongside those two this year that would have been a different story, though. Both Wheeler and Seguin had an offensive explosion in 2011-12, but last year neither player had much of an offensive impact. This season for the Stars Ryder had much more of a feature role.
|1||DAL-ERIKSSON,LOUI - DAL-RIBEIRO,MIKE - DAL-RYDER,MICHAEL||67|
|2||DAL-BENN,JAMIE - DAL-ERIKSSON,LOUI - DAL-RYDER,MICHAEL||51|
|3||DAL-DVORAK,RADEK - DAL-FIDDLER,VERNON - DAL-NYSTROM,ERIC||48|
|4||DAL-MORROW,BRENDEN - DAL-OTT,STEVE - DAL-RIBEIRO,MIKE||28|
He played on Dallas’ top two production lines and got the majority of his ice-time with Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson, who had 90 assists between them. Playing with two set-up men is a great recipe to record a career high in goals. It didn’t hurt his plus/minus either, as he went from minus-1 in 2010-11 to plus-17 this year.
Playing with talented players like Ribeiro and Eriksson also allowed Ryder to put together a few lengthy point streaks this season.
He had a stretch where he had points in 15 of 16 games from mid-February to early March and another six game run in December. Last year the best he could muster up was a five game streak. He also had just one game where he recorded three points in 2010-11 as opposed to this season when he accomplished the feat six times.
Typically in order to have some decent point streaks you need to play with players who are a consistent threat to produce night in and night out. That’s where once again Eriksson and Ribeiro enter the picture. Ryder didn’t get the luxury of playing with that level of talent regularly in Boston.
There is one stat that fantasy owners should be aware of that slightly inflated Ryder’s goal totals this past season, though. He scored four empty-net goals, which led the team and ranked second in the entire NHL. Now a goal is a goal, but empty-net tallies are random and you can’t always count on them as part of a player’s usual totals.
It should be noted that Ryder deserves the majority of the credit for his accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get the benefit of many different factors along way. When the circumstances for a player change, that can either benefit or hinder a poolie’s roster. Keep in mind that just as quickly as Ryder’s situation improved for the better, with a change in scenario it could easily go in the other direction.