The Tampa Bay Lightning hope Ryan Shannon could be the next Martin St. Louis.
This off-season, the Lightning signed a smallish forward who was a solid college player and showed a scoring touch in the minors but has yet to see it translate to the NHL.
If you had a tinge of "I've heard that story before" pre-cognizance it's because you have.
Ryan Shannon's story nearly parallels that of Tampa Bay Lightning super star Martin St. Louis. While not quite the prolific scorer that St. Louis was in college, Shannon was a steady producer for Boston College, averaging 41 points a season in his three years as a regular player.
After going undrafted, Shannon was signed by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and assigned to their Portland AHL affiliate. Shannon exploded in Portland, scoring 86 points in 71 games, earning All-Star honors and was named to the AHL All-Rookie team.
It wouldn't be long before Shannon was elevated to NHL, winning a job with the Ducks in the 2006-07 season. Shannon struggled to find a role with the Ducks as he wasn't scoring in the league early on and didn't have the bulk to be on the checking line, he saw his time diminish, playing in 53 games in his rookie season.
The Ducks traded him to Vancouver the following season and Shannon was returned to the AHL, playing for the Manitoba Moose. The next season, Shannon was dealt again - this time to the Ottawa Senators.
He would start the season in Binghamton (AHL), but after the Sens fired their coach Craig Hartsburg and elevated Binghampton coach Corey Clouston to the interim head coach position. One of Clouston's first moves was to bring Ryan Shannon with him to Ottawa.
Shannon responded with 20 points in 35 games. He would not return to the AHL, playing in 145 games the past two seasons.
Shannon cites St. Louis as an idol and wore number 26 in his honor.
Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman saw a lot of the skills in Shannon that has made St. Louis a prolific scorer in the NHL. Speed, a solid shot and a nose for the puck are characteristics the two share. Like his idol, Shannon also has a burning desire to do something special.
Even St. Louis can see the desire in the young man.
"We're getting him at a time he is hungry," St. Louis told the St. Petersburg Times.
St. Louis certainly knows something about being hungry. After going undrafted, he toiled for four years in the minor leagues before finally getting called up by Calgary for 56 games in 1999. Like Shannon, he struggled to find a role with the Flames, managing just 3 goals and 18 points and after a change in upper management, St. Louis was released.
Looking for training camp bodies and remembering seeing St. Louis be dominant in college at Vermont, then Lightning GM Rick Dudley signed him, giving him a training camp shot. St. Louis quickly earned a spot on the roster.
Playing a regular shift with the last place Lightning, St. Louis turned in his best NHL season (at that time) with 40 points and 18 goals.
Realizing he may have caught lightning in a bottle (sorry for the bad pun), head coach John Tortorella put St. Louis on one of his top scoring lines and with increased playing time became the team's most dominant scorer before breaking his leg, ending his 2001-02 campaign.
Of course, you know what happened from there. St. Louis became a team leader, became a six time All-Star, won the Ross Trophy (most points), Pearson Award (MVP voted by the players), Hart Trophy (League MVP), the Lady Byng (Sportsmanship) and was a key cog in the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup.
Now enter Shannon, who like St. Louis a decade ago, will get extended playing time with his idol and fellow Lightning super sniper Steven Stamkos on the Bolts' top line.
Tampa Bay hopes that Lightning indeed strikes twice.