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LBC's All-Time Florida Panthers Roster Countdown: 19. Mike Van Ryn

Today, we check out the four Panthers seasons of Mike Van Ryn.

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19. Mike Van Ryn

Van Ryn was a 6'1" defenseman from London, Ontario. He had played one season of collegiate hockey with the Univeristy of Michigan in 1997-98 (38 games, four goals, 14 assists) when originally selected by the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, with the 26th overall pick. Instead of joining the Devils organization, Van Ryn played another season of college hockey (37 games, 10 goals, 13 assists) with the Wolverines. In 1999-00, he played 61 games with the OHL Sarnia Sting (six goals, 35 assists).

Van Ryn didn't like the status quo as it pertained to NHL's rights to collegiate players after a draft selection. According to

In June 2000, through a loophole, Van Ryn signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues. NHL teams retain the rights of drafted college players until they leave the school. Van Ryn challenged this practice in court and an arbitrator ruled that a player drafted off a college team could play one season of major junior hockey and then become a free agent. Thus after two years at the University of Michigan, Van Ryn went on to play one year for Sarnia Sting, and then became a free agent, which allowed him to sign a three-year deal with St. Louis.

Van Ryn opened the 2000-01 season as a member of the Blues, failing to score and ending the game with a minus-2 rating. He was sent down the St. Louis' AHL affiliate, the Worcester IceCats (37 games, three goals, 10 assists) soon afterward. The following season, he played a substantial portion of the year in each of the two clubs, scoring two goals with seven assists in 24 games with the IceCats and two goals with eight assists in 48 NHL contests with the Blues.

In 2002-03, Van Ryn was again splitting the season between Worcester (33 games, two goals, eight assists) and St. Louis (20 games, zero goals, three assists). The Blues sent him to Florida on March 11th for Valeri Bure and a fifth round draft pick (Nikita Nikitin). He would finish the season with the San Antonio Rampage, tabbing three assists in 11 games.

Van Ryn opened the 2003-04 season as a full-fledged NHLer for the first time. Out of 79 total games, he tabbed multiple points six times, including a season best three assists on April 4th in a 6-6 tie with the Carolina Hurricanes, the last tie in the history of the NHL (the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers also tied that night, 3-3). He led the team with an ATOI of 24:26, while leading the blueliners with 24 assists (third on the team). He scored a career high and team fifth best 13 goals on 136 shots, finishing tied for a team worst minus-16 rating.

As 2004-05 passed without hockey, so too did Van Ryn do without. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he took the season off, not playing anywhere. When play resumed in 2005-06, Van Ryn rejoined the Panthers, playing in a career high 80 games. In the sixth game of the season, he notched an assist on each of Florida's three goals in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He would duplicate the feat on February 28th as the Panthers mauled the Tampa Bay Lightning 8-2. In the last game of the season, he scored a season high two goals in a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers, on April 18th. In total, he scored eight goals on 129 shots with a career high and team fifth-best 29 assists. He averaged a team second best 22:36 TOI, finishing at a team second best plus-15 rating.

In 78 Panthers games in 2006-07, Van Ryn made two assists in five of them. He scored four goals on 121 shots, also collecting a team eighth best 25 assists. He had a minus-5 rating as he was relegated to the second pairing, averaging 21:08 TOI (fourth among Panthers blue-liners).

Pantherrrr...GOOAALLL! (via gabtabulous125)

After 20 games with the Panthers in 2007-08, Van Ryn was sidelined for the rest of the season with a wrist injury and subsequent surgery and rehabilitation. He had gone scoreless on 16 shots with two assists and a minus-2 rating. Just prior to the 2008-09 season, the Panthers sent Van Ryn to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Bryan McCabe and a fourth round draft pick (Sam Brittain).

Van Ryn scored three goals and eight assists in 27 games for Toronto in 2008-09, suffering from assorted knee injuries and concussion issues. After missing the entire 2009-10 season, he officially announced his retirement. He joined the coaching ranks with the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League, and is currently with the Houston Aeros in the same capacity.

All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 257 games, 25 goals, 80 assists, 105 points, minus-8 rating, 220 PIM, 17.3 APS.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.