Ryno packs bags
Johan Ryno, a 21-year-old 6-foot-5 forward, will leave North America Sunday to return to Sweden with the blessing of the Red Wings. A month ago, Igor Grigorenko opted to go home to Russia rather than accept an assignment to Grand Rapids.
"If a player doesn't want to be here, doesn't think he's ready to be here, in our minds … he's a 21-year-old kid, a 21-year-old boy," said Detroit general manager Ken Holland. "He might as well go back and hope he's a player at 24, 25. It's hard to make the NHL when you're 22, 23. We've agreed to go along with what the player and agent want."
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement changed two years ago, forcing teams to either sign their European prospects after two years or lose their rights. In the old CBA, teams could keep NHL rights to a European player indefinitely.
Ryno was signed by the Red Wings this past summer when several other prospects were allowed to drift out of the system. The big winger had a strong training camp in Traverse City and was assigned to Grand Rapids.
With the Griffins, Ryno has three goals and seven points in 12 games. His plus-3 is second on the team. He has 20 shots on goal, which ranks just eighth among Griffins forwards. Ryno has been scratched five games.
Ryno is ranked No. 11 among the Red Wings' prospects by redwingscentral.com.
Ryno and his agent have called Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill several times over the past 10 days, asking to be allowed to play the rest of the season in Sweden citing both on- and off-ice lack of comfort in North America.
"Some players mature a little earlier than others," said Holland. "It's been a struggle in Grand Rapids. We've got a lot of kids there. He's been in the lineup, out of the lineup. We've liked what we've seen of him. It's been the inconsistent play that a lot of young players have.
"From our end of things, there's really no guarantee that he's going to go back to Sweden and play regularly there. It's not like he was an established player over in Sweden. But ultimately, the player feels very very very strongly that he wants to go home. If a player doesn't want to be here, ultimately we agree with the player."
Ryno is long on potential and short on experience. Detroit's director of European scouting, Hakan Andersson, rated Ryno as having tremendous up-side during September training camp.
Ryno, however, has had injuries and has played at lower levels of the professional game. This past summer was the first in which he has been healthy enough to train fully to prepare for the regular season.
Last winter, he played 29 of his 43 games in Sweden's top professional level. Before that, he played either second- or third-tier or junior hockey.
"Ideally, we'd like him to stay, but sometimes Europeans … some are ready early and some need more time to mature," said Holland. "It's an individual basis. The rules have changed. In the old CBA, you drafted a European, you basically owned their rights for the rest of their life. You could leave them there like we did with (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg until they were mature and were fairly dominant players on their team and league."