At this point in his development, Joakim Ryan is everything Doug Wilson could hope for in a late round draft pick.
Drafted in the seventh round, 198th overall, Ryan was full of potential in 2012. But defensive prospects can be hit-or-miss, especially those in the late rounds, as they tend to peak later in their development than forwards.
It’s good news, then, that Ryan has only continued to improve his game over the last five seasons. In four years and 123 games with Cornell University, Ryan scored a total of 19 goals and 53 assists. He set a record for goal scored by a freshman defenseman (7), led all skaters in assists as a sophomore (20), tied second for scoring as a junior (24 points), and was named to the All-ECAC First Team his senior year.
He’s been compared to Marc-Edouard Vlasic in his quiet, but effective and intelligent defensive capabilities. He may surpass Vlasic offensively, though. Ryan put up 49 points in 65 games with the Barracuda last season. More impressively, he maintained that offensive production in the Barracuda’s 15-game playoff run, scoring four goals and seven assists.
Ryan was called up last season as a seventh defenseman, but never suited up for the Sharks. That may well change this year. Ryan, Tim Heed, and Dylan DeMelo will all find themselves fighting for the open roster spot left by David Schlemko, and Ryan is certainly able to make a case for himself. With the trade of Mirco Mueller clearing room for defensemen, there’s no reason Ryan won’t see time with the Sharks this season.
The Sharks signed him to a two year contract this June.
Name: Joakim Ryan
Age (as of 9/9/17): 24
Last Year’s Ranking: 23
2016-17 Team: San Jose Barracuda
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: San Jose Barracuda
What we like
Ryan’s two-way game makes him a force to be reckoned with on the power play and being a two-way defenseman gives him a competitive edge.
What to improve on
He made strides in improving his defensive zone play over the last season, but there’s still room to improve. Being relied on during the Barracuda’s playoff run and playing major minutes saw Ryan struggling with the physicality of playoff hockey, which leaves room for concern about his performance at the NHL level.
This video from Cornell’s senior night is a little cheesy, but the play on the second goal is so satisfying.