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RW Bobby Ryan looking to prove he still belongs in NHL

Looking to improve the overall product on the ice next season, the Detroit Red Wings have added a former 30-goal scorer to their lineup on the first day of free agency, signing forward Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2020-21 campaign.

Despite producing just eight points through 24 games last season, Ryan is determined to turn his career around and is hopeful that playing in Detroit will provide him an opportunity to accomplish that feat. But at the very least, the 33-year old just wants to prove to himself and to everyone across the league he still deserves a chance to play in this league.

“It’s the number one factor for me, this year, there was apart of it that still has to prove it to myself,” Ryan discussed. “I did get eight games back at the end of last year before we shut down and had four goals in a game. I felt like I had an opportunity for more in those games and I haven’t had that in a long time. I felt like I had jump every night, I felt like I just had refound hockey and the joy for it and the day-to-day lifestyle in the NHL.

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“When you play 13 years in the NHL at times it gets grinding, but you forget that it’s a sport and you’re not supposed to take it for granted and I was certainly doing that for a good period of time there. So number one, ultimately, I’d like to prove to myself that I have more in me and then number two everybody else behind that.”

While Ryan had opportunities to play on contending teams, the 6-foot-2 winger decided after a 45-minute conversation with general manager Steve Yzerman that he wanted to come join the Red Wings and serve as a leader to this young group of players. Though there’s still plenty of time to determine which line he’ll play on, the former first-round pick admitted he’d prefer to play alongside some of the team’s top young players, as he wants to help assist their development through next season.

“I think this is one of those relationships that’s going to work for both sides – for the team, the player, the organization, and in general,” Ryan explained. “We now are a little lean on the right side, right-handed shots and there was kind of an opportunity to slot in there and potentially play with whether it be Larks, or Tyler Bertuzzi, or Mantha, and Fabbri.

“There’s just some high-end skill up front that needed some right-wing experience and that fits well with me, and also fits well because what I talked about to Steve [Yzerman] was that he had done his homework and found out through sources that I’ve been well-liked in my career by the young guys that have come through Ottawa in the past.”

Regardless of what happens with the expanded playoff format, the Red Wings still aren’t expected to make the postseason in 2021, but being apart of a rebuilding team definetly isn’t something new for Ryan. Based on the struggles he endured with the Senators, the right-hander won’t be affected by playing with a young team that might make mistakes and he’s just excited to earn an opportunity to play with talented players like Dylan Larkin.

“It’s hard to say you’re comfortable with it when you’re losing, but I’ve been comfortable in my veteran role,” Ryan detailed. “That being said, there’s a bit of selfishness in that because while I’m out to prove the naysayers wrong – people that think maybe my legs are gone – but that I still have some gas left in the tank and some hockey left in me and playing with Dylan Larkin sounded like a pretty good opportunity to do that.”

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