GM Peter Chiarelli said Michael Ryder was his second choice among free agent forwards, with Marian Hossa presumed to be his top target. The Bruins made their final offer sometime around 7 p.m., with two other teams also in the running for the right wing.
“He’s a player we coveted,” Chiarelli said. “We feel he’ll make our team better. We’re happy to have him. He’s up on my board now.”
Montreal had given an undisclosed team exclusive negotiating rights to Ryder prior to today’s opening of free agency. But that team was unable to come to terms with Ryder, who agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract.
* Ryder has a history with Claude Julien. The Boston coach was with Ryder in Hull (QMJHL), Hamilton (AHL), and Montreal. “Claude left here a happy man,” said Chiarelli. Julien, Chiarelli, and vice president Cam Neely were active in recruiting Ryder on the phone today.
* Ryder scored 30 goals in 2005-06 and 2006-07. But the shoot-first right wing — think a younger and faster Glen Murray — scored only 14 goals in 70 games in 2007-08. In the first round of the playoffs against the Bruins, Ryder was a healthy scratch for three of the seven games. Ryder saw less than 10 minutes of ice time in two of the four games in which he played. “I’d characterize him as being in the doghouse,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know the facts behind it. I know a little bit about it, talking to Michael and his agent and seeing from afar what was going on. I don’t know what to attribute that to. They had some very skilled players. Every time we played him, he played hard. He was dangerous. He’s a player I feel has very strong potential to continue scoring at the level he has in the past. He’s had two 30-goal years. He’s a guy who’s had a history with Claude. You have to knock that year out of the box when projecting on him.”
* Having played against the Bruins eight times during the regular season and seven more times in the playoffs, Ryder was familiar with how the team operated. “He really liked the way we played throughout the year, despite the fact that they waxed us a little at the beginning,” Chiarelli said. “He liked the way that we played hard. He recognized our deficiency in goal scoring. That’s one of his stronger points.”