The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that they have signed Swedish forward Simon Ryfors to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2021-22 season. Ryfors will turn 24 years old in August and is listed at 5’10” and 181 pounds. Ryfors was never drafted in the NHL Entry Draft, but would have first been eligible for selection in the 2015 draft.
Ryfors has spent the last five seasons playing in the SHL in Sweden for Rogle BK. He made his debut in 2015-16 with one game for Rogle BK when he was 18 years old. As a 19-year-old in the SHL, he put up 5 goals and 9 points in 46 games. He followed that with seasons of 8 points, 13 points, and 18 points through 2019-20. This past season, he broke out in a big way scoring 25 goals and 45 points in 51 games. He added another goal and 10 points in 14 playoff games as Rogle BK lost in the Finals.
It’s not often that the Lightning have dipped into the European unrestricted free agent group like this. With a salary cap crunch looming though, the Lightning must be casting a wider net to look for potential talent. Ryfors may end up being destined for the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch though he will get a look in training camp to potentially make the Lightning.
A big part of his chance to make the roster is going to be dependent on how many forwards the Lightning move out this summer to solve their salary cap issues. It’s possible that the team could lose five of their current top nine forwards. Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow are unrestricted free agents. Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Ondrej Palat are veterans under contract that are candidates to be moved. The number of forwards that depart is going to be dependent on what the Lightning are able to do with the Seattle Kraken and the expansion draft.
If all five of those forwards were to leave the team this summer, the Lightning would be left with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde, Mathieu Joseph, Pat Maroon, and Mitchell Stephens under contract. Alex Barre-Boulet and Ross Colton are both restricted free agents and expected to be back with the team next season. The Lightning are looking at having two or three open forward spots, depending on how many of the five candidates to leave actually leave.
The current in house candidates to take those spots are Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, Otto Somppi, and Daniel Walcott. Gemel Smith is an unrestricted free agent, but could also be brought back on a cheap one-year contract to compete for a spot. Now Simon Ryfors is added to the list to increase the competition for those spots at the bottom of the roster. If he doesn’t make the team out of training camp, then the team can send him to the Syracuse Crunch and at a minimum provide some scoring punch at the top of the line up in the AHL and provide depth for the organization.