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DALLAS (CBS SPORTS) - The Dallas Stars ended up getting what had to be one of the best bargains — and biggest surprises — in free agency last summer, when they signed veteran forward Michael Ryder to a two-year, $7 million contract.
For Ryder, the deal ended up being a $500,000 year paycut from his previous deal with Boston, and he went on to score more goals (35) than any other player that signed during that free agency period last summer (technically he was tied for that lead with Erik Cole, who also scored 35 goals after signing a four-year, $18 million contract with Montreal, but Ryder did it for $1 million fewer against the salary cap. Advantage: Dallas).
Even though Ryder had twice topped the 30-goal plateau in his career, I don’t know that anybody outside of Dallas expected that sort of production from him last season, especially since that total matched what he had produced over the previous two seasons… combined.
Ryder is returning to Dallas this upcoming season for the final year of his contract as part of a revamped Stars lineup. Their top lines will feature returning young stars like Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn, as well as the offseason additions of Derek Roy (once he returns from his offseason surgery) and seemingly ageless veterans Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. It will certainly be an interesting group to watch.
But what should be a realistic expectation for Ryder coming off what was a career-year almost entirely across the board?
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