This season saw the New Jersey Devils make a bunch of moves. The team brought in stud goalie Cory Schneider through trade on draft day. They signed Ryane Clowe to take over the score-ugly, hard-nosed hockey role for the next five years. Jaromir Jagr is a sure fire Hall of Famer who will put on the red and black for the first time in his career. Damien Brunner has just recently joined the team on a pro tryout that is no risk and all reward. Rostislav Olesz returns to playing under Pete DeBoer, whom he had his best career numbers a few years ago.
None of those players will be the fans’ favorite once the season is going full steam. Michael Ryder will be the player that every fan loves on this Devils team. He comes in to a team that is starved for offense, but does not want to be centered around one player. The Devils want to become a team that scores as a unit, instead of being dependent on two or three players like they seem to have been last season. They are looking for a player that can score on his own, but can also facilitate when needed. Ryder fits the bill.
Of course Schneider is likely to become the main guy in the long run, but this season he is behind Martin Brodeur so fans won’t be able to see how good he really is. Jagr is limited by the fact that he is going to turn 42 years old this season. Brunner may not even make the team if DeBoer doesn’t think he is a fit. Clowe could be a major injury risk, especially since he left his first preseason game with a lower body injury.
Ryder hasn’t had major injuries in his career. The most games he missed in a season was 17. He still has the ability to score over 30 goals if needed, which may be the case. He also knows how to play a more conservative game, similar to the one he played with the Boston Bruins. He came on a very cap-friendly contract worth $7 million over two seasons. He scored 35 points last season, which would have put him one behind Patrik Elias for the team lead. He is exactly what this team needs.
Ryder is what most Devils fans should want in a forward during a transitional period. Notice that I mean transitional and not rebuilding. Ryder knows that this team might be reeling based on the losses of talent, but they aren’t anywhere close to dead. He came here, along with the other veterans, to win. That is why he will become your new favorite player.