Young Duck earning his wings in Des Moines

by Will Michaelson || AHL On The Beat Archive

ryan08a_200.jpgIowa Chops winger Bobby Ryan is on the fast track to the National Hockey League, and Chops fans will get to see him at his best this season.

Originally from Cherry Hill, N.J., he moved out west and honed his game in the California sunshine. The drastic change in climate proved to be no problem for Ryan, as he became a star in the Los Angeles Junior division, winning a pair of divisional championships for the L.A. Junior Kings.

Ryan’s physical play and nose for the net caught the attention of Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bob Clarke, who thought Ryan would be able to handle the competition of the Ontario Hockey League.

Ryan was drafted seventh overall by the Owen Sound Attack in 2003, and lit it up out of the gate, scoring 22 goals and 17 assists in 65 games of his first season. There was no sign of a sophomore slump the next season, or even his third in the OHL, either. In the 62 games he played for the Attack in 2004-05, he racked up 37 goals and 52 assists, and tallied a mind-numbing 31 goals and 64 assists in the 2005-06 season. This play was enough to land him a spot on the OHL First All-Star team in 2005, and once again got him noticed. This time it was the NHL calling.

The 2005 NHL entry draft arrived in Ottawa and boasted a class of high-scoring wingers like Anze Kopitar, Benoit Pouliot, and Gilbert Brule. It was also a coming-out party for the undisputed number-1 pick out of Cole Harbour, N.S. — Sidney Crosby.

Ryan was slated to go third in the draft, but was pleasantly surprised when he went second overall to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, ahead of number-2 ranked pick Pouliot.

Ryan continued to shine in the OHL after the draft, capping the 2006-07 season off with 102 points in 63 games with the Pirates. Ryan also skated in eight regular-season games with the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates, scoring nine points in that time. His big break came next season, when the Ducks called him up to play in the 2007-08 season opener against the Los Angeles Kings in London, England.

The Kings may have won, but Ryan impressed the staff, scoring the only goal for the Ducks.

He was later sent back to Portland to develop, but that wouldn’t be the last time Ryan would see NHL competition that season. He was recalled to the Ducks to fill in for Corey Perry, whose leg injury would sideline him for the rest of the season. Ryan finished the 2007-08 season with the Ducks, and had scored 10 points in the NHL at season’s end.

Ryan is back in the AHL, this time suiting up for the Iowa Chops, the Ducks’ new affiliate. He looks to have settled into his role with the Chops, and has 11 points in his first nine games of the season. Chops fans should enjoy Ryan while he’s in Des Moines, because the way he’s been playing, he might be flying west for good, and sooner than you think.