Originally written on Stars of Big D  |  Last updated 4/24/12

MONTREAL- SEPTEMBER 24: Michael Ryder #73 of the Boston Bruins skates during the NHL preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens on September 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 2-1 in a shootout. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Michael Ryder

2011-2012 Season GP Goals Assists Points +/- Shots on Goal PP Goals PP Assists TOI/G PIM Michael Ryder 82 35* 27 62 +17 211 7 3 17:23* 46

*denotes career highs

Michael Ryder was easily one of the biggest surprises of the season for the Dallas Stars. Coming from a deep Stanley Cup winning roster with the Boston Bruins, Ryder was a bit of an unknown when he was signed on as a free agent. As a 14-15 minute per game player with Boston, Ryder was a decidely average player and put up some of the worst numbers of his career. His impact on the team was uncertain coming into the season but the 32-year-old proved to be one of the best signings for any team this season and had one of the best years of his career. 

Ryder was one of only three players on the team (Loui Eriksson and Vernon Fiddler are the other two) to play all 82 games this season. He used that health to tally a career high 35 goals, 27 assists while playing the most minutes of his career as a top line player. His 35 goals were the most for any Stars player since the 1999-2000 season when Mike Modano scored 36 goals. He's also only the third player since the Stars moved to Dallas to reach the 35 goal plateau. Modano hit that mark four times in Dallas while Joe Nieuwendyk reached it once so Ryder has already become one of the most proficient goal scorers in team history.

No free agent this year had more goals than Ryder and he more than made up for the absence of Brad Richards (which I'm sure no one thought he would do before the year started). Richards had only 66 points as the top line center and premier player for the New York Rangers which is a huge disappointment considering that he played in all 82 games for the first time in five years.

Ryder was brought to the team to do pretty much one thing, score goals. He did that throughout the year except for the beginning of the year and for a blip in January when Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro were out with injuries and he was being centered by Tom Wandell. Near the end of the season when it really mattered, Ryder scored nine goals and had six assists in both February and March as the Stars made a push for the playoffs that ultimately fell short.

About the only place where he struggled was on the power play, but that was a problem for the whole team. He worked on the first unit PP and led the team with seven power play goals which is a very sad number to lead a team with. Hopefully things get better next season when he's working with Benn (fingers crossed). He wasn't all that adept defensively and could get lost at times, but that's not what he was brought here to do.

Ryder finished this season as the team leader in goals (tied for 11th most in the league), shots and power play goals and was second on the team in +/-. He finished fourth in points just behind Ribeiro, Benn and Eriksson. He also led all Stars forwards in power play ice time (219:02 on the season).

Overall, Ryder was one of the best Stars this season and an absolute coup in free agency for GM Joe. He's signed on for one more season for $3.5 millon and that looks like a bargin right now. Ryder gets a solid A from me this season and I look forward to watching him next year. The Stars need to find another like him this offseason.

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