|Ryan Shannon signed a one-year contract with the Senators today, then his thoughts quickly shifted to representing Team USA at the IIHF 2009 World Hockey Championship in Zurich and Berne, Switzerland (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images).
Talk about a whirlwind of a day or two.
The news surely couldn't have been any better for Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Shannon. Not only did he sign a one-year, one-way contract with the team, he also learned he'll get the chance to represent Team USA at the IIHF 2009 World Hockey Championship, which begins April 24 in Zurich and Berne, Switzerland.
Shannon earned his keep in Ottawa with a season that included career highs in goals (eight), assists (12) and points (20), all of it achieved in 35 games. The speedy winger was an ideal fit for the offensive system employed by Senators head coach Cory Clouston.
"The confidence that I gained and how comfortable I was playing under Cory's system and the way the team was playing ... I really didn't want the season to end," said Shannon, a 26-year-old native of Darien, Conn. "Things were going pretty well and to be rewarded with the contract feels good."
Shannon was obtained from the Vancouver Canucks in a pre-season deal for defenceman Lawrence Nycholat. But armed with only a two-way contract, he started the season in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators. He's clearly enthused about his elevation to one-way contract status.
"It's a big deal," said Shannon. "The whole time, since getting called up from Binghamton, I was only guaranteed the day I was there. It was an ongoing audition, trying to play for next season and get a deal done.
"Now that it's done, it's a big weight off my shoulders and I can concentrate on training this summer and preparing to show what I can do in a (full) NHL season."
Clouston, the former B-Sens coach, made Shannon his first callup after taking over as bench boss in Ottawa. Turns out it was a permanent move for the 5-foot-9 forward.
"Any team (would say) if you can find a player like Ryan, he helps your club," Clouston said a few weeks back. "He works extremely hard in practice and that's contagious as well ... He's had to, throughout his career, do the little things as well or better than anybody because he's not a big guy. But that makes him very effective."
Murray praised Shannon's versatility and competitiveness.
"(Shannon) is not big but he's very competitive," said Murray. "He's got good quickness, he's a very responsible player and I thought wherever he played in the lineup, he made a contribution.
"The confidence that I gained and how comfortable I was playing under Cory's system and the way the team was playing ... I really didn't want the season to end. Things were going pretty well and to be rewarded with the contract feels good." - Ryan Shannon
"He can play on any line on the team but the fact he can skate the way that he does and he's smart allows him to get special-teams ice time. That adds a lot to the team and the flexibility that a coach has. He covers for injuries and he can play the point on the power play on occasion. He's a good player for us."
Team USA general manager Brian Burke, who knew Shannon from the Stanley Cup season they shared with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, no doubt saw a lot of the same things. Still, Shannon admitted being taken a little aback by the call inviting him to make his worlds debut.
"That was a big surprise and a huge honour," he said. "Brian Burke gave me a call and I was a little startled by the voice because I knew it very well in Anaheim. When I heard his voice, it was usually 'you're being sent down to the American (league).' When he offered the invitation (to the worlds), before he could finish the sentence, I accepted it."
The U.S. roster also includes another Senators forward, Nick Foligno