The lead writer for ILWT, John Fischer thinks Michael Ryder is completely and utterly pointless. He thinks he is a mistake of a human and can't believe that he had enough athletic prowess to make it out of the womb when he was born...
Okay that's an exaggeration and I'm sure I'll get in trouble for it later. What John actually thinks, and he can correct me if I'm misrepresenting him, is that Michael Ryder is most useful as a shooter and when that's not working, he's not working.
With the Devils in a tough spot right now and the season looking grim, many have considered the fact that Ryder is in the last year of his contract and may be able to get us something in return. In this article I will take the opposing opinion.
My contention that Michael Ryder is good for this team is basically two-fold. One is that he has purpose beyond his shot. And two is that his shot is important to this team.
Surprisingly Difficult Ice Time
First let me dispel a rumor. In my admittedly informal review of public opinion, I believe there is a perception that Micheal Ryder either doesn't play in defensive situations, or is given easy minutes because he is a shooter and most comfortable in the offensive zone. This is very much untrue.
According to War on Ice his 5 on 5 relative zone start percentage is -5.3%. For those unversed in these analytics, this means that he starts in the defensive zone 5.3% more often than he starts in the offensive zone. This is good for 21st out of 30 Devils skaters. For some perspective, he is just a hair above Stephen Gionta (22nd) in that statistic, someone traditionally viewed as a defensive forward.
Furthermore, Michael Ryder's linemates do not compete well with his competition. Below is the ratio of unblock shot attempts for and against for Ryders teammates, his competition, and then the net effect of the two.
As we can see, Michael Ryder again is given the short end of the proverbial stick. It's easy to see now why John thinks he sullies the already notorious name of "Devils' forward."
Doing More with Less
So what has he done with these poor on-ice situations? Well for even strength scoring chances, he is breaking even relative to the team. That is to say the team has the same ratio of scoring chances regardless of whether or not he's on the ice. Remember this guys plays 5% more in the defensive zone and does it with inferior linemates to his competition so breaking even is pretty good.
However if you look at his total stats, he skyrockets to 4th in scoring chance ratio behind only Jagr, Havlat, and Gomez. Now some may say this is because he plays a lot on the powerplay. Wrong again! He is only 10th on the team among forwards in powerplay ice time per game.
All of his On-ice goals for versus goals against stats are on the positive side which means that these scoring chance figures are coming to fruition.
Individual Scoring Effect
I know that Ryder takes the term "streaky" to a whole new level and that's part of the reason why John fantasizes about Frodo throwing Michael Ryder into the fires of Mount Doom. But, Ryder's current shooting percentage on unblocked shots is 4.9% at even strength. Only 1 in every 20 of his shots that gets to the net is going in the net. Stephen Gionta has managed a 5.9% on the year to give that some perspective. This just absolutely cannot continue.
So despite this atrocious luck the good news is that Ryder is stopp 5th on the team in goals. The depressingly bad news is that 5th on the Devils means you have scored 6 goals.
But, let's not focus on generating goals and just focus on generating offense. Below is a list from War on Ice on individual scoring chances. I calculated the time on ice and per60 stats and found that Ryder is generating the most individual scoring chances per 60 minutes of anyone on the team without exception.... well except Reid Boucher. Okay so one exception.
Furthermore, if you look at the raw scoring chances, Jagr is at the top with 92, Ryder is next with 83, and in 3rd place is Cammalleri with less than 60. Ryder is one of the only Devils generating quality opportunities with his shot. And don't forget that he is also 5th on the team in assists with 12 so he's not just shooting all the time either. That distinction goes to Cammy this year.
Ryder is also 2nd in shots, 1st in unblocked shot attempts, and 2nd in shot attempts. He and Jagr are far and away the most active shooters on the team. For a team that is 4th worst in the NHL scoring only 2 even strength goals per 60 minutes, Ryder is an invaluable piece at the moment.
Despite the fact that John whats to give Michael Ryder one paper cut for each post he hits and watch him bleed out on the ice, he is a very important Devil at the moment. In less than ideal circumstances, he is one of the few Devils who is getting not only shots, but quality shots on net consistently. With our forward prospect pool relatively barren, I am one of the minority who would actually be rather sad to see Ryder go, because we've already lost too many shooters.
These stats were nitpicked a little as his overall possession statistics are towards the bottom of the team and he has been shown to have a negative effect on teammates Corsi. He shoots a lot, yeah, but what use is that if he can't put the puck in the net. He doesn't play a lot on the powerplay -- which is really more of a bad thing than a good thing -- but his lack of any time on the penalty kill still inflates his overall stats. This is a rebuilding team and if a contender offers us picks for a player that we would probably lose next year anyway, then we should let them take him.
Do you like Michael Ryder? If so is it romantically or strictly platonic? Do you think we should trade him for draft picks? Can the team sustain any offensive production whatsoever after losing yet another shooter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.