The Forgotten Man: An Homage to Mike Van Ryn

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IJune 14, 2010

The title says it all. Often injured and mostly forgotten about, Mike Van Ryn has had quite a tumultuous last few years in the NHL.

Having only played roughly half a season the last three years, Van Ryn has never really been able to show off his abilities. 

In late 2009, Van Ryn underwent micro-fracture knee surgery, the same surgery Steve Yzerman and Jason Kidd have had done.This surgery can either go two ways—career reviving or career ending. For Van Ryn, he hopes that this will revive his career.

Usually the surgery hockey's version of Tommy John Surgery. It will make or break his career. He could return and be fine, or he could return and never be the same.

In a recent interview, Van Ryn stated that he still has not skated, but he hopes to when camp rolls around in September, while hopefully earning himself another contract.

Van Ryn is a 6'1", 200 lb., 31 year old defenseman who is a solid veteran presence. Now, while he's not one of the greatest defenders around, he's a solid addition to your bottom third of your defense.

I feel he should be signed to an incentive-laden contract where you see him make $500K initially, but if he meets criteria, can make up to two million. I would base the criteria on games played, points, and playoffs.

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The first part of the criteria is that he plays at least 50 games. The second is he gets at least 25 points, and lastly, the Leafs make the playoffs. Each criteria garners him $500K each.

Van Ryn would provide the young Leafs' defense a solid veteran presence to play with.

The Leafs boast a top six of Phaneuf, Komisarek, Schenn, Gunnarsson, Beauchemin and Kaberle. The prospects waiting in the wings are Aulie, Holzer, and Oreskovic, along with Finger sitting in the minors. It's obvious they have depth at defense.

By all accounts though, Kaberle will have a new home very soon if the reports and rumors come true, so having a solid veteran presence, (who's better than Jeff Finger), would be a great addition if healthy.

Of course, the Leafs could sign another unrestricted free agent, but I feel they have a great, cheaper option sitting in their own backyard.

Any thoughts on Mike Van Ryn? Can he return? Is this a worthwhile venture for Burke and Co.? Does he even fit into Toronto's Top Six?

Photo: Courtesy of mapleleafs.com

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