When the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Simon Ryfors to an entry-level contract last May, the news was met with little fanfare. Despite interest from several NHL teams, his name wasn’t very familiar to fans in North America. However he might bring much more value than it looks from first glance.
Ryfors landed on our list in the 21st place – readers ranked him 23rd, while the writers were a little bit higher on him, giving him the 20th spot. Regardless of how long his career will be with the Lightning organization, it will be his first and only entry on our list as Ryfors turns 25 next August.
Ryfors is a 5’10”, 181 pound center/left winger, who played the previous season for Rögle BK in the SHL, a Swedish professional league. He was never drafted by an NHL team and has very little experience playing for the national team. Over 250 regular season games in SHL he scored 41 goals and 52 assists for total of 93 points. Ryfors wasn’t really on scouts’ radar until last season, when he blossomed, scoring 25 goals and 20 assists in 51 regular season games, becoming the best goalscorer in the league (alongside with Daniel Viksten from Färjestad BK) and sixth in the league in points. He also helped his team to reach the finals, where Rögle BK unfortunately lostto the Växjö Lakers 1-4 in a best-of-seven series. During 14 playoff games last season he recorded one goal and nine assists.
Ryfors’ regular season production was heavily boosted by his power play performance – out of 45 points last season, 20 points were scored on a power play, which was the fourth-best in the league. His 5 power play points in 14 playoff games were also one of the best results in the league.
Most of the scouting reports describe Ryfors as a hard-working player, who plays every shift with a high energy level and is very good at forechecking. Earlier this year Geo even compared him with Yanni Gourde and given Gourde’s departure, this signing makes even more sense. The Lightning will definitely need to rethink their third line, after all of the players (Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow) left the team in the summer. Simon Ryfors could be one of those players to replace them given his similar style of play.
Simon Ryfors utökar för @rogle_bk. pic.twitter.com/thAS1JDntt— C More Sport (@cmoresport) April 10, 2021
Ryfors also has solid foot speed and a heavy shot. He is a smaller player, but still very strong on the puck and don’t hesitate to engage in fights alongside the boards or go to the slot to battle for a loose puck.
The biggest concern for him is how he will be able to adapt to the North American style of hockey after playing his whole career in Sweden. We’ve already seen a lot of very good European players who struggled after arriving to the NHL due to the smaller rinks and the differences of speed and intensity of the game.
Coming to the league as a 24-year-old player, Ryfors will probably be given a solid chance to make the team this season. We will have the first look of him in the Lightning’s jersey during 2021 NHL Prospect Showcase on September 18-21, when the Lightning will face prospects from the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers.
Being a center also gives him some advantage to making the roster. The Lightning lost two pivot men this offseason in Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde, and their best options for centering bottom lines are Ross Colton and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Ryfors could be the next option if some of the Lightning’s centers are injured and can provide the team a much-needed depth . He also could be potentially in the mix for a spot on the Lightning’s second power play unit given his experience from the SHL.
Don’t expect him to make the team right away and he definitely will have to spend some time in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch simply to adjust to the smaller rinks. But if he is able to translate his game well, Ryfors could be a huge (and inexpensive) addition to the Lightning roster.