Mile High Hockey Lost in Avalanche: Ryan Wilson

Mile High Hockey Lost in Avalanche: Ryan Wilson

At the beginning of the 2010s, the Colorado Devessall was in the midst of its first full rebuild in the city of Denver. About a decade removed from 2001 Stanley Cup, names like Joe Sakic (and unofficially) Peter Forsberg, were no longer members of the team, while Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk were on the verge of retirement. The Avalanche were looking for a new identity for the first time since moving from Quebec, and the team was looking for just about anyone to step in and turn the ship around, including undrafted free agents. Through a deadline deal, defenseman Ryan Wilson would find his way to Colorado, beginning a 5-year career with the organization.

Ryan Wilson was born on February 3, 1987 in Windsor, Ontario. He began his Major Junior hockey in 2003-04 with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League, where he would play for three seasons. In his third and final season with the team, he produced 12 goals and 49 assists for 61 points in 64 games, while racking up 145 penalty minutes, earning Wilson status as a “defensive forceful offensive”. I would receive an invitation St. Louis Blues training camp in 2006, but back to the juniors. Wilson joined the Sarnia Sting for his fourth Major Junior season, where Wilson reaped some benefits from playing with eventual 2008 first overall pick Steven Stamkos. Wilson would post the best numbers of his junior career this season, with 17 goals and 58 assists for 75 points in 68 full games, while once again amassing triple-digit PIMS (136) as a team captain. Wilson would accept an invitation Philadelphia Flyers training camp in 2007, but failed to land an NHL deal since the tryout. As a result, Wilson would return for a fifth and final Major Junior season with the Sting, scoring just seven goals but posting a career high in assists with 64 for 71 points in 58 games. In addition, he would be in the penalty area less, only accumulating 84 PIMS.

Sarnia Sting vs. London Knights

Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

At the end of his junior career, Wilson would sign a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, joining the AHL affiliate Quad City Flames for the 2008-09 season. In 60 games with the club, he would score four goals and 16 assists for 20 points, while reducing his penalty minutes at the next professional level, only logging 56 minutes in the bin. With 2009 NHL trade deadline looming, however, the Calgary Flames were in the midst of a push for the top of the Northwest Division with their Western Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Canucks. Looking to bolster his defense, Flames GM Daryl Sutter (now head coach) called up then-Avs GM Greg Sherman, whose club was in last place in the Western Conference to make a trade. The Avalanche ended up trading veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold to the Flames for 2009 NHL second-round draft pick Lawrence Nycholat (Stefan Elliott) and Ryan Wilson. He finished his first professional season with the Avs affiliate Lake Erie Monsters, not recording a point, but made an impression on the organization with 25 penalty minutes in his eight games for the club to end the 2009 season.

After three games in the minors to start the 2009–10 season, the Avalanche with injuries to defensemen John-Michael Liles and Ruslan Salei would call up Wilson for his NHL debut on October 15, 2009 against the Montreal Canadiens. A week later, on October 23 against the Carolina Hurricanes he would add his first NHL assist, setting up the lone apple on a Paul Stastny goal, before scoring his first NHL goal on November 17 against who else but the Calgary Flames. Wilson would stay for the most part with the Avs, appearing in 61 games while adding 3 goals and 18 assists for 21 points and just 36 penalty minutes. In addition, he would play in 4 games of the Avs’ 1st round playoff series against the San Jose Sharksmaking an assist.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Colorado Avalanche

The 2010-11 season would be the first season in which Wilson made the team’s opening night roster, as he would serve as an important young piece for a team looking to build on a successful season ’09-10. However, as the Avs slipped back to the bottom of the NHL, Wilson would begin to have struggles of his own. Statistically, he would have a good season, with another three goals and 13 assists in 67 games, a very slight regression from the previous season, but still very useful for the fabric of NHL defenses at the time. In his third pro season, Wilson would tie his career best with one goal and 20 assists for 21 points, but was limited to just 59 games this season, largely due to a concussion. in a violent coup by Maxim Lapierre in December. 6, 2011. After the 2012 summer season, Wilson signed a three-year, $6,750,000 extension with the Avs, worth $2,250,000 per year. Unfortunately, this is where the wheels fell off the bus for Wilson at the NHL level.

In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL season, Wilson would continue to battle injuries, this time in the form of knee and ankle injuries. Playing in just 12 of the Avs’ 48 games that season, Wilson recorded three assists, and the Avs finished as the worst team in the West once again, going 16-25-7. The Avs would fire head coach Joe Sacco in favor of Patrick Roy, and with potential defensemen like Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott and Duncan Siemens pushing to secure NHL jobs in the near future, Wilson was running out of time to cement a spot in the NHL. the defense corps Avs.

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild - Game 4

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The start of the 2013-14 NHL season saw many new directions for the Avalanche franchise. With a brilliant 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon at the top of a new coaching regime, the Avs were looking to start a new chapter of Avalanche hockey in the Mile High City, and Wilson had a good chance to cause a great impression to the new coaching staff with their tough offensive style. This would be a big year for the Avs as they would go 52-22-8 and finish atop the Central Division. Unfortunately for Wilson, he was a minimal contributor. After being sidelined by a minor knee injury suffered in a preseason game, Wilson missed the first week of the season recovering from a preseason knee injury. About three weeks after returning from the knee injury, Wilson suffered a back injury in a 6-4 loss to the Nashville Predators on November 6, 2013. This injury cost Wilson two more months of his season, and after a brief conditioning period with the AHL club, Wilson would return to the NHL lineup, but with minimal production. In 22 games, Wilson scored no goals and only five assists. In March, he was a healthy scratch, and Wilson would essentially be the eighth defenseman on the depth chart, behind Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Jan Hejda, Nick Holden, Andre Benoit, Nate Guenin and Cory Sarich. Wilson would briefly return to the lineup as a forward just before the start of the NHL playoffs after Matt Duchene injured his shoulder, but would have minimal impact, recording a single assist in six games.

The 2014–15 NHL season was Wilson’s final NHL season overall as he was unable to avoid injury. After appearing in just 3 games to open the season for the Avalanche, on October 21, 2014, Wilson would leave a game against the Avalanche. Florida panthers with what at first appeared to be a weekly injury. A month after the injury, however, it was announced on November 23 that Wilson would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, a fatal blow to his NHL career. The Avalanche would allow Wilson to reach Free Agency, and after not signing in the summer, Wilson would sign a PTO deal with the Calgary Flames, his original team, but failed to make the team. Wilson was out of the NHL and decided to sign with Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL for the 2015-16 season, officially beginning his professional European hockey career.

HC Lugano v ZSC Lions Zurich - Champions Hockey League

Photo by HC Lugano/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images

Abroad, however, Wilson would also be an officer. After making just three assists in 24 games for Ak-Bars, he would move to the Swiss-A league to play for HC Lugano in the 2016-17 season, where in 39 games (including the playoffs) he would score two goals, 13. assists, and 15 points. Once again, however, Wilson would find himself playing in another league for the 2017-18 season, this time in the SM-Liga. It is in this league with KalPa Kuopio that Wilson finally found stability outside of North America, as he would play 134 games (including playoffs) over three seasons for the club. In these games, Wilson contributed two goals and 30 assists for 32 points.

Ryan Wilson appears to be an athlete who retired when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. His final professional season came with KalPA Kuopio in the 2019-20 season, but with no formal retirement announcement ever made, it is unknown where Wilson is now or what he is doing.

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