It’s been a difficult last few days in Carolina, as the club traded away captain Eric Staal, veterans John-Michael Liles and Kris Versteeg, and lost Andrej Nestrasil to a season-ending vertebra injury.
So, it’s an appropriate time for a feel-good story.
That’s exactly what the ‘Canes will get tonight as Derek Ryan, 29, will play his first-ever NHL game — just one day after getting his first-ever NHL recall.
A former standout with WHL Spokane — where he played under ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters — Ryan has been all over the place over the last nine years. There was a stop in Kalamazoo (of the now-defunct United Hockey League), a four-year stint at the University of Alberta, three years in the Austrian League and, last season, a terrific campaign in Sweden.
With Orebro, Ryan scored a whopping 80 points in 55 games en route to capturing SHL Forward of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. He parlayed that into a one-year, two-way deal with the ‘Canes this summer and, after being assigned to AHL Charlotte to begin this season, has enjoyed a very solid AHL campaign, leading the Checkers in scoring with 42 points.
(It should be mentioned this is Ryan’s first-ever AHL campaign, too.)