Good news out of Montreal today where the Canadiens finally inked Michael Ryder to a single year contract for $1 million. Last year’s leading rookie scorer rejected the Habs qualifying offer and was the last player to sign on the dotted line. Montreal will, therefore, head to camp with a full compliment of players.
Last season Ryder was a nominee for Rookie of the Year honours after posting an impressive 25 goals and 63 points – leading all rookie skaters in both categories. His impressive work ethic and nose for the net turned him into a crowd favourite at the Bell Centre and created no end of headaches for opposing defenders.
Last week, GM Bob Gainey told reporters that the two had agreed on a term for the deal, and only had to work out the dollar amount. Unfortunately for Ryder, being a rookie and not being eligible for salary arbitration worked against the player. While he would certainly have enjoyed a larger windfall, the length of this deal will allow him to renegotiate next summer, presumably after having proved his worth.
Gainey will be well pleased as the club heads into camp with everyone under contract. With an influx of youth this year adding competition, it will only make the team better. Ryder under contract ensures the Habs have one of their better goal-scorers ready to go.
And now that the last piece of the puzzle has finally been placed, it’s up to the players to perform. In a few short days camp will start, and shortly after that the pre-season schedule will arrive. Time to see if the dividends pay off.