Much like Sheldon Souray in Edmonton and Brian Rolston in New Jersey, Michael Ryder must be sweating out his status a bit when it comes to his place with the Boston Bruins. The snake-bitten forward discussed his hopes of having a bounce-back season after declining from 27 goals in 08-09 to 18 in 09-10.
Ryder, who has one year ($4 million annually) remaining on his contract, could be a candidate for assignment once Marco Sturm is activated off long-term injured reserve. But if Ryder, projected to skate alongside David Krejci and Blake Wheeler once more, could make his roster spot a permanent one if he dusts off last year’s struggles.
“There’s definitely always pressure,” Ryder said. “This year, I’ve got to make sure I have a better year than last year. It was disappointing overall. I just think I’ve got to come out strong and get off to a good start. For me personally, I know the things I’ve got to better at from last year. I’ve got to try to shoot more and get the puck in the net.”
Ryder scored 18 goals in 82 games last season. The year before, Ryder found the back of the net 27 times.
What might help Ryder this year is Krejci’s health. Krejci, who dislocated his right wrist against Philadelphia, said he’s very close to feeling 100 percent. Last year, Krejci was coming off hip surgery and wasn’t himself at the start of the season. In turn, Ryder and Wheeler suffered because of their center’s yet-to-click game.
It’s hard not to wonder that – much like Souray – Ryder might not even get the chance to prove that last season was just a bump in the road.
The heat will be on if he gets the opportunity, as many believe that Ryder is the most expendable of the Bruins many forwards who register at or near $4 million against the salary cap. He’s not an elite defensive forward or a gritty two-way player, so Ryder’s going to have to do what he does best: score goals. If he shows a renewed ability to do just that, he’ll be very valuable to a Bruins team that is searching for the finishing touch they’ve been missing since they traded Phil Kessel.