2007-08: In Ryan Button's first season with Prince Albert (WHL), the defenseman registered eight assists in 58 games.
2008-09: Button’s sophomore season with the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) was superior to his first. His eight point total from last season was more than tripled this season, when he netted five goals and 37 points in 70 games. His 43 penalty minutes were another career-high for the D-man.
2009-10: Button played for a Prince Albert team that had a losing record. He scored six goals and 27 assists for 33 points in 67 games, which is down slightly from his 37 points in 70 games from a year ago. Button's defensive game improved. His +9 plus/minus rating this year is very impressive considering he was a combined -35 in his first two seasons in the WHL.
2010-2011: Button made his pro debut at the end of the season, appearing in seven AHL games with Providence following the conclusion of his WHL season. He had 1 assists and was -1 with 2 PMs in limited ice-time with the P-Bruins. Button began the season with Prince Albert, his fourth season with the Raiders, before being dealt to Seattle in a trade-deadline deal that it was hoped would push Seattle into contention for a playoff spot (the Thunderbirds failed to make the playoffs, ironically falling three points short of Prince Albert and Everett). In 69 WHL games between the two clubs, Button had 5 goals with 30 assists and was -8 with 49 PMs. Four of his five goals were scored on the power play. Button signed a three-year, entry-level deal with Boston in May 2011.
2011-12: Stuck behind offensive defensemen prospects David Warsofsky, Kevan Miller, Colby Cohen and Matt Bartkowski on the depth chart for Bruins AHL affiliate Providence, Button shuffled between the AHL and ECHL Reading in his first pro season. He had 2 assists and was minus-eight with 16 penalty minutes in 28 games for Providence. In 30 ECHL games with the Royals he had 1 goal with 5 assists and was minus-five with 14 penalty minutes. Providence missed the AHL playoffs while Button was playing in the AHL during Reading's first round series with Elmira so he did not see any playoff action.
Button, aka ‘the enigma’ is a living, breathing contradiction. His skills are that of a high-end offensive defenseman, but his numbers have never supported his skill-set. He has athleticism and outstanding skating ability, with both mobility and speed. He’s a slick and creative puck handler capable of beating defenders one-on-one off the rush, and when combined with his skating has the ability to spin, juke and shake forecheckers and shot-blockers. He has good vision and sees the options on the breakout and on the power-play. He shows poise with the puck and will fake one-timers to allow shot blockers to slide right on by then pick his corner and hit it. His slap-shot is average so he keeps it simple, taking low, tippable shots or opting for slap-passes as he prefers to move in tighter to use his more dangerous wrister. Defensively, his skating allows him to recover if he gets beat, it keeps him in front of players and off-sets the sometimes poor gaps and angles he takes. He’s willing physically and even though he has decent size and has added strength he’s not heavy on his skates so there’s work to be done there as well.
Based on his skill-set, Ryan Button should be a Brian Campbell-type, offensive defenseman when he gets to the NHL, but throughout his career, he’s been used in defense-first roles on defense-first teams. For three years running he’s been the most dynamic offensive defenseman at the Bruins summer development camp, but even Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy intends to break Button into the pro game defense-first, as he sees older players like Warsofksky and Bartkowski as being ahead of Button in terms of the power-play and offensive situations and said he wants Button to keep things simple, and work on being strong one-on-one and along the walls, “as a defensive, shut-down, type of guy.”
Button has the potential to be the best Bruin defensive prospect not named Hamilton, but he has a long way to go before he starts playing up to that potential, and given Boston’s developmental plan for him next season, expect another year of modest point totals in Providence.