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Simon Ryfors could be a surprise addition to the Lightning roster

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The Swedish native could play himself onto the Lightning this fall

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I have something to admit. When thinking about and evaluating this off-season and the upcoming Tampa Bay Lightning roster for the 2021-22 season, I’ve neglected to talk about one player under contract: Simon Ryfors.

I’m sorry Simon, I didn’t mean to forget about you.

Ryfors signed an entry level contract with the Lightning on May 12th of this year. He turns 24 in August, and because of his age, that meant that the entry level contract was for only one year. He received a $92,500 signing bonus, with a base salary of $750,000 in the NHL and $80,000 is the minors. Additionally, the contract has $82,500 in performance bonuses. The cap hit for him is $842,500 with a maximum of $925,000 if he hits all of the performance bonuses.

EliteProspects.com lists him at 5’10” and 181 pounds and lists his position as Center/Left Wing. He also shoots left. He’s on the small side for the NHL, but about average for the Lightning’s forward group. He was never drafted in the NHL Entry Draft and it wasn’t until this past season in the SHL that he broke out offensively as a professional hockey player. Prior to 2020-21, Ryfors had put up 16 goals, 32 assists, and 48 points over 199 games in the SHL. This past season for Rogle BK, he posted 25 goals, 20 assists, and 45 points in 51 games. He added another goal and 10 points in 14 playoff games.

Admittedly, when he signed, I believed that he was being brought in as organizational depth. On his entry level contract, he would be cheap in the AHL and could provide some scoring punch with the Syracuse Crunch. If he played well there, perhaps put himself in line on the depth chart for a call-up as an injury replacement. His not having much of an offensive game until this season was what led me towards thinking that perhaps this past season was just a blip, but that the Lightning wanted to take a lottery ticket on him.

Yesterday, Henrik Leman of Rakapuckar.com posted an interview with Simon Ryfors which perhaps gives a little bit more insight though, and does lead me to believe that he’ll be given a chance to earn a roster spot during training camp. And who knows... maybe he’ll be the answer for replacing one of the top six left wing spots if Ondrej Palat or Alex Killorn is traded?

Because the article is in Swedish, and I do not speak Swedish, I have had to rely on Google Translate for the text of this interview. Hopefully the meaning is coming through correctly, but here’s a few tidbits that stand out to me.

A Bit Like Yanni Gourde

Ryfors competes to the maximum all over the ice, plays to win every match, every duel, is simply a troublesome bastard to face - not just because he can produce.

A bit like Yanni Gourde [...]. Hard work, a lot of forechecking, games against the opponents’ best - but also with lots of your own playing qualities.

This is the kind of description I like to hear and makes me understand a bit more why the Lightning targeted him. The Lightning love players that work hard and have a high energy level on the ice, especially in their smaller forwards, This would especially be a good fit in the current top six, or on the revamped third line for the Lightning, if he can show enough in training camp to earn a spot.

When Leman asked Ryfors about that comparison to Gourde, this is what he had to say.

That’s how it is. This thing about competing, this is where I founded my game, that’s how I took a place in Rögle once, compete, always do the right things. Then I built on it, in the end I found the goal scorer, the offensive tip. But the foundation is a damn two-way job. I place great value on it, to always do the right thing for me. I’m not a nonchalant goal scorer… haha.

Once again, I like hearing that. A player that has found offensive success last year, but has built it upon two-way play. That transition from the SHL, which is a very good league in Europe, to the NHL though is a big step up. Especially going from the bigger ice to smaller ice. There’s less room to work, passes have to be quick, and everyone is a step faster. It’s a challenge and it would be great to see him make that step.

Julien BriseBois was part of the recruiting process

- I had the whole range (of tenders), from bottom to top. I chose this path, I believe in it. It is motivating to come to a well-established club like Tampa. Two-time champion, not quite easy to get into, but they have said that they like me, that they will see me in their team in the future. Just go there and do it right away. With the development I had last year… I can continue to train and develop, I am damn motivated, it will be fantastic fun, Ryfors states.

One of those who likes is Tampa’s GM Julien BriseBois , he had several conversations with his new Swede before the contract was signed. Since then, Ryfors has had a number of zoom conversations with people on Tampa’s development page.

It sounds like the Lightning weren’t the only ones in on Ryfors. I suppose that shouldn’t be that much of a surprise after his season in the SHL. It’s also good to see that Ryfors has been talking to the development coaches as he trains during the summer. Mentioned later in the interview is that he’s been working out with a group of 15 players that come from all different leagues, including the NHL, SHL, Allsvenskan, and Liiga.

One more tidbit from the comments section

Richard had this to say about Ryfors in the comment section.

Good luck to Ryfors but I think he will have a hard time if he does not get stronger on the puck and physically. Had he been rocket fast then maybe it can compensate. But I experience him as a smart type of player who is good at positioning himself. However, he needs good teammates. We’ll see, he’s going to be interesting to follow anyway

Once again, I like what I’m hearing from Richard with his little bit of a scouting report. Being stronger on the puck and physically is not a surprise for a smaller player with Ryfors’ measurements. And once again, I like hearing that he’s a smart player with good positioning. Those are some of the traits that are harder to quantify, but nevertheless, important in a player.

Conclusion

It was a mistake for me to overlook Simon Ryfors in my analysis. We’ll have to wait for training camp to see how he does here. Can he keep up with the Lightning’s top players? Can he play fast enough and strong enough to break into the NHL right away? Does he need an adjustment period in the AHL first? We’ll find out.

In the meantime, he can compare shootout moves with Nikita Kucherov

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