Montreal Canadiens Prospect Focus: Michael Ryder

By pbadmin

Michael Ryder C 6-0 180 19 D-Mtl98 (8/216)

98-99 Stats 69 44 43 87 +4 65 15 4
98-99 Playoff 23 20 16 36 +6 39 7 4

#1 Strength- Vision and creativity.
#1 Weakness- Size.
With a strong regular season and an impressive playoff performance, Michael Ryder has developed into the biggest surprise of the Canadiens’ 1998 draft choices. Chosen in the 8th round, 216th overall, Ryder has great skating ability with quick acceleration. Although he can beat opposing defensemen on the outside, his greatest asset is his instinctive scoring ability.

Born in St.John’s Newfoundland, Ryder is a 6’0″, 180 Lbs. Center with the Hull Olympiques. Drafted by Hull in the 1997 QMJHL midget draft, Ryder went on to finish 5th among the QMJHL’s rookie scorers in 1997-98.

Ryder was not seen as one of the Habs’ top prospects until his performance in this year’s playoffs. His 98-99 regular season totals were strong but not impressive. He scored 11 more goals than the Habs’ 2nd pick in the 1997 entry draft, Gregor Baumgartner, and equaled the Habs’ 1st pick in the 1998 entry draft, Eric Chouinard, in PPG’s with 15. Ironically, the only negative from the regular season was his a weak plus/minus of +4.

This year’s playoffs were where Ryder began to make a name for himself. He carried the team offensively, scoring 11 more points than any other player on his team. He finished 2nd in the QMJHL in playoff scoring, while bringing his team to within one win of a birth in the Memorial Cup.

Ryder had 7 points including 5 goals in the 1st round series against Victoriaville, added 9 points in the 2nd round series against Shawinigan, was on fire in the 3rd round with 10 points in a 4 game sweep of Rouyn-Noranda, and finished the playoffs with another 10 points in a 7 game loss at the hands of Acadie-Bathurst.

Ryder ended the playoffs with an average of 1.57 PPG, and an unbelievable string of 20 straight games with at least 1 point. Also, no other Habs’ draft pick was within 18 points of Ryder’s total, while only Chouinard’s 1.54 PPG was even comparable.

Ryder’s playoff performance established him as a bonafide prospect. Up among the likes of Eric Chouinard and Mike Ribeiro. The next step is to follow it up with a strong training camp this coming fall. Thereby allowing Habs’ GM Rejean Houle to turn that surprise induced gaping jaw into a broad, glistening smile.