Steve Yzerman got off to a quick start to his free agency by signing right wing Bobby Ryan and defenseman Jon Merrill to one-year deals. They’re signings that add much-needed depth to a Detroit Red Wings team that desperately needed it as well as adds potential trade chips down the line. They also added three players who have spent their careers so far in the AHL. Let’s take a look at the new men in red and white and what they bring to the table.
Ryan’s deal is worth $1 million. The 33-year-old is coming off a year where he went through the league’s player assistance program due to alcohol abuse. His story was one of inspiration and led to him winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which is awarded to the player that most represents perseverance and dedication to hockey. He finished the 2019-20 season with five goals and three assists in 24 games with the Ottawa Senators.
He’ll bring a grittiness at the wing position that will be needed in replacing Justin Abdelkader, who was bought out of his contract earlier this week. He should bring a sense of veteran leadership as well to a young, rebuilding team and some decent scoring as well. He had 42 points in 2018-19 on a struggling Senators team. That kind of production would certainly be welcome at the price the Red Wings are paying.
At the very least, he serves as a trade chip. If he is productive in the upcoming 2020-21 season, Yzerman will most likely look to move him to a contender and acquire those coveted draft picks. If he doesn’t perform, he was a cheap player that they took a chance to add depth to a weak roster.
Merrill’s deal is worth $925k. The 28-year-old is a former University of Michigan Wolverine as well as a Michigan native and childhood Red Wings fan. After starting his career with the New Jersey Devils, the 6’4″ defenseman was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. He then signed a two-year extension with the Knights and played eight postseason games during their run to the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Finals.
He’s a defensive-defenseman who will be much needed on the Red Wings. He should most likely be in the everyday lineup and, depending on any future signings, be one of the team’s top defenders. It’s much-needed depth for a team that lost three defensemen due to either release, trade or retirement this season.
Much like Ryan, you hope that Merrill can be a trade chip come the trade deadline. With the one-year deal with a price under $1 million, it was a risk-free signing that has no real downside. Either Yzerman gains more draft picks or the team has a depth player for the entirety of the season.
Wings Sign Three AHL Players
Along with the Ryan and Merrill signings, the Red Wings added three new players who have spent their careers in the AHL. First off is Kyle Criscuolo, who was a part of the Grand Rapids Griffins‘ 2017 Calder Cup Championship team. He spent two years in the Red Wings’ system before heading to the Buffalo Sabres‘ system, where he played nine games in the NHL in 2017-18. Criscuolo’s deal is a one-year contract.
They also added goaltender Kevin Boyle on a one-year contract. He has spent the last four seasons with the San Diego Gulls but did make four starts with the Anaheim Ducks in 2018-19. Last season, he played in 20 games with the Gulls and had a 2.82 GAA and .911 save %. Lastly, they added 26-year-old Riley Barber on a two-year deal. The Livonia, Michigan native had 37 points in 46 games in the AHL with the Laval Rocket and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2019-20.
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