As the youngest member of the Toronto Marlies...
(checks Twitter feed).
As the youngest member of the Reading Royals of the ECHL, Kenny Ryan has spent much of the season watching and learning how to become a professional hockey player. There's probably a good debate to be had about whether Ryan would be better served to have spent the first half of the season as effectively the 13th forward on a pretty decent Toronto Marlies squad, or having been someone responsible for carrying a heavy workload for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. Yesterday the organization chose Secret Door #3 and sent Ryan to their ECHL affiliate in Reading, where he will get a similar opportunity to be the key player as he would have in Windsor, but he also gets to play against fully-grown men and familiarize himself with the grind of a professional hockey schedule.
All of this seems to indicate that as far as the Leafs organization is concerned, the young kid from Michigan is ready to be a pro, and they are giving him plenty of time to grow into his game. That confidence is enough for us to choose Kenny Ryan as #23 in our Top 25.
The Maple Leafs made Kenny Ryan their second selection in the 2009 Entry Draft, 50th overall, (the pick the Leafs received from the New York Rangers in exchange for Nik Antropov) and chose a player that possessed a number of characteristics that indicated they had chosen a future professional hockey player. Having scored 27 goals and 49 points for the US National Development Team, scouts appreciated Ryan's willingness to go into the corners and dirty areas, creating space and opportunities for himself and for others. Ryan also displayed an ability to play a two-way game and a strong work ethic.
Ryan was slated to join Boston College for the 2009-10 season, but changed his mind shortly after the season started and joined the Windsor Spitfires, joining a stacked team that included Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Zack Kassian, Ryan Ellis and Cam Fowler. Ryan was used primarily in a third-line checking role this season, contributing 35 points in 52 games and en route to a Memorial Cup victory.
The following season Kenny Ryan continued to excel in a defensive role for the Spitfires, but also assumed more of an offensive leadership role scoring 60 points in 63 games, and contributing 12 points in 18 playoff games.
Coming into this season, many expected that Ryan would be returning to Windsor for an overage season. But he surprised some with a strong preseason performance, enough to earn a position with the Toronto Marlies. Primarily rotated in and out of a 4th line role and the press box, Ryan has played in just 13 games and registered a single goal. The move to Reading for the second half of the season is probably for the best going forward in order to maximize the kid's playing time, but again one has to wonder why the Leafs wouldn't just return him to junior earlier in the season (as they did with Jamie Devane or Jerry D'Amigo last year).
Four of the voters put Kenny Ryan in low spots in their top 25, and three others had him at #28. I'm operating under the assumption that PPP penalized him for not being NIk Antropov, while Chemmy bumped his ranking because he decided not to play for BC.
Here's SkinnyFish to explain his #28 ranking:
What can I say about Kenny Ryan, the Maple Leafs 2nd round pick from 2009? Let me put it this way; if his game drastically improves, he could be the next Philippe Dupuis. Ryan was the second pick of the Burke era for Toronto, an era that pledged loyalty to pugnacity, testosterone, truculence, and belligerence. An era likely coming to an end with the demotion of Colton Orr and the relative success of the fast, uptempo Leafs of today. What does this all mean for Kenny Ryan, a kid who was well below a ppg player in the OHL and described as more of a defensively minded forward? He'll probably find himself anchoring a PK in the AHL for the next few years. I doubt he plays a single NHL game.