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Halifax's Ryan on rise as ankle heals, season goes on

by Adam Kimelman
In September, the NHL came to Andrew Ryan's home, but he wasn't around to appreciate it.

In June, he plans to atone for that.

Ryan, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound left wing with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, likely will hear his name called sometime in the first four rounds of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Despite missing the first three months of the regular-season with a broken ankle, Ryan has nine goals and 10 assists in 37 games. He was one of 40 players to take part in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and is No. 64 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.


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"He seems to have all the tools," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau told "He protects the puck well. … He's a good skater, got good hands."

"He's got great skill," Halifax coach Dominick Ducharme told "For a big guy, he's got really good skills. He's got really good hands in tight areas. He's got a pretty good shot, too. He's a big guy with good hands."

Ryan has been showcasing that skill level as he's gone along this season. His best month to date has been February, as he posted four goals and six assists in 12 games. It's all part of him still trying to work his way back to 100 percent health.

"The last few games I've been staring to feel a little bit better, but I'm still not to where I was before I hurt myself," Ryan told just before his hot February began. "I'm trying to work hard and get back to where I was."

It's been a long road back.

During a training camp drill on Aug. 30, Ryan lost an edge and slid feet-first into the end boards, breaking his ankle and tearing ligaments. He didn't need surgery, but to start his draft season on the sidelines was not the ideal.

"It was really frustrating at first," he said. "Nothing I could do about it, but it's still something that kind of eats away at you for a little while. Now that I'm back playing I'm trying to get better."

While rehabbing in Halifax, he also missed the arrival of 2011 Kraft Hockeyville. Conception Bay South, Nfld., won the title, but all the on-ice events were held at the nearby Mile One Centre in St. John, the town where Ryan was born and played in while growing up.

"I grew up in Paradise, but Paradise doesn't have a rink, so that's where all the people go to play," Ryan said of St. John. "I was still in Halifax when that was going on, but I had a lot of buddies that were there and a lot of buddies that were on the ice with the (NHL) guys. It was pretty exciting still for me to be from there and see a lot of my friends on TV and stuff."

That was one bright light during the dark times of his recovery and rehabilitation. Also helping in the healing process was an invitation to the CHL/NHL Home Hardware Top Prospects Game, held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Kelowna, B.C. Only 40 draft-eligible players from the three CHL leagues are invited to take part in the event, and the players are chosen in a poll of NHL teams. This means that despite his injury, teams are interested in what he can do.

"It was amazing," he said of the experience. Ryan played for Team Cherry and was coached by three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi. "The start that I had, coming back … I had a rough few games at the beginning when I came back. To get this invite was a reassuring thing, and hopefully I can build on it."

He's done just that.

"He's really finding his rhythm," Ducharme said. "He's going to combine his physical play and skill at the same time. He's got a great toolbox and he's just learning to use it.

"It's great to see him playing the way he is right now. Looking at what's coming up … the best of him will come in the playoffs."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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