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Ryan Johnson, try-out or this year’s Evgeny Ryasensky?

A little hard drive reformatting turned into, “Uh sir, your hard drive’s fried and I haven’t even begun to look at anything else,” which means that I’m writing this from my phone (T.M.I. at TMR is the unofficial slogan!), and might not be back up till the weekend.

But I’m puzzled nonetheless because an authorless report on USA Today claims that the Red Wings have signed forward Ryan Johnson to a try-out contract.

You may remember Ryan Johnson as the brother of two-time Wing Greg Johnson, as a pain-in-the-arse third line center as a Blackhawk, Canuck or Blue and you may remember him as the man whose concussion only resulted in a game misconduct for Todd Bertuzzi last spring.

But how does Johnson fit into the Wings’ plans given that Fabian Brunnstrom is already vying for a 14th forward’s spot on a team whose ranks already include a re-signed Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves, never mind an AHL graduate in Jan Mursak and a non-waiver-exempt player in Cory Emmerton? Johnson is a superb shot-blocking, faceoff-winning forward, however…He’s almost too good to be trying out for a team that has no room for him unless Johnson manages to un-seat Drew Miller.

Johnson, who is listed on Sarah Lindenau’s training camp roster on her Left Wing Lock blog, has long odds of cracking the Wings’ bottom six at simply because of a roster crunch, and as the USA Today report is the only one mentioning this move, it seems a little odd…Just like the Sovetsky Sport interview in which CSKA Moscow defenseman Evgeny Ryasensky’s agent swore up and down that the Wings signed his client…

Time and the Wings’ beat writers will tell whether this slightly odd try-out is in fact based in reality, strange as it may seem.

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Ducksworth's avatar

This is a bit surprising

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 09/01/11 at 06:38 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

If it’s true, it may be a case of Kenny hoping that Johnson is this year’s Kris Draper, giving Helm a little more time to completely replace Drapes.  Or maybe it’s something to do with Tuzzi…

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 09/01/11 at 08:57 AM ET


Johnson is a superb shot-blocking, faceoff-winning forward, however…He’s almost too good to be trying out for a team that has no room for him unless Johnson manages to un-seat Drew Miller.

Well, Johnson is good at shot-blocking and face-offs… but he’s got no other NHL-level attributes. He skates slower than continental drift, he has no hockey IQ (his defensive game goes no further than ‘get in the way of the shot’), and he’d fit into the Wings puck-possession game about as well as an oil tanker in a microwave oven.

Going on what I saw for two years as a Canucks fan, and then again in this year’s playoffs (the only reason he played for Chicago is because he’d accept minimum salary, and they were desperate for warm bodies on the 4th line), he is nowhere near too good for the Wings.

Posted by fcjbencard on 09/01/11 at 10:53 AM ET


FYI: Helm replaced Draper 3 seasons ago.

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/01/11 at 11:14 AM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

Droid power.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 09/01/11 at 12:11 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Sorry, meant Mursak, wrote Helm.  All of our key PK forwards are on the young side (for the Wings), and some a bit inexperienced.  Maybe this is to bring in some experience on the PK.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 09/01/11 at 12:53 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Very strange (if true)...

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 09/01/11 at 06:13 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I doubt the intent is for competition for a roster spot. Seems more like a favor to give the guy a chance to audition for other teams, and if the low end of the depth chart gets it in their heads that they have to work that much harder, well that’s only a good thing.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 09/01/11 at 06:36 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

The doldrums of summer…at this point, I think the question is more, “Who’s going to be this year’s Fabian Brunnstrom?”

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 09/02/11 at 11:42 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

The doldrums of summer…at this point, I think the question is more, “Who’s going to be this year’s Fabian Brunnstrom?”

I’d like to think it will be Fabian Brunnstrom, but I’m not really sure I even know what that actually means.  Are we talking about the Fabian Brunnstrom who scored three goals in his NHL debut?  Or the Fabian Brunnstrom who struggled mightily for the past year or so? 

Perhaps he’s neither of these.  For the sake of discussion, we could speculate as to whether he is in reality some hypothetical Fabian Brunnstrom that we may not have heretofore considered?

Taking a more pragmatic view, maybe Fabian Brunnstrom is merely regressing toward the mean as, statistically speaking, the vast majority of Fabian Brunnstroms inevitably do. 

In any case, I think it’s an excellent question.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 09/03/11 at 08:27 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

I actually meant it as an ambiguous question, WestWing, which could be taken any number of ways, though I think you’ve missed the most obvious one: Who will be the next heralded unsigned undrafted free agent a la Brunnstrom, Leino, da Costa, etc.?

But I like your interpretation better, especially if we combine it with Hawking’s theory of infinite variables at any given moment (so-called ‘dimensions’), in which case, the correct answer to the question, “Who will be the next Fabian Brunnstrom?” is “Everyone.”  Like Being John Malkovich, or the Lebowski-Fest.  I’m a Brunnstrom, you’re a Brunnstrom, but more importantly, Brunnstrom is me too.  In fact, Brunnstrom is everyone, which makes him part Gretzky, part Yzerman, part Sawchuk, and part Howe.  And if those are the right parts…

...Wow.  This may be a more important try-out contract than any of us realized.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 09/05/11 at 01:44 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.