Michael Ryan Returns, Evan Rankin ECHL Trade and One Hundred Thousand Amerks Fans

The last time Michael Ryan played a game was October 14th against the Lake Erie Monsters and has since missed 35 games due to a mystery injury/illness/something or another.  If everything goes according to plan he’ll skate to the ice tonight against the Oklahoma City Barons.  The last time he was expected to return was Thanksgiving week before another he had another set back.  So, what’s been wrong?  Who knows but a healthy Michael Ryan in the Amerks lineup immediately contributes some speed up front and even more potential scoring up front.  The team and fans will take that any day.

In his past three full seasons in the AHL, he was a big-time goal-scorer. In 2006-07 he scored 28 in 50 games for the Amerks. He scored 25 in 40 games with the Albany River Rats in 2008-09. He had 25 in 52 games for the Adirondack Phantoms last season.

And considering about half the forwards in Buffalo have been injured this season, and that six different Amerk forwards have been called up as injury replacements, there’s little doubt that Ryan would have been adding to his NHL games-played total.

(Read more from Kevin O on Hockey O-Zone)

Now we need to hope he scan stay healthy for the remainder of the season!

Evan Rankin

Thanks to Mark P. for pointing out the ECHL transactions on Wednesday which showed Evan Rankin being traded from Toledo to Utah.  The transactions also showed Utah trading former Amerks tough guy Riley Emerson to Toledo.  What does this mean for Rankin?  He’ll likely be offered an American Hockey League contract with the Amerks now that he’s healthy or at least prior to his 25 game PTO expiring.  That’s the safe assumption at least based on how well he’s played.

In the span of 13 games that Rankin has played he has been a leader during that time frame in scoring for the team with seven goals and five assists for 12 points.  The only other person close during that time period is Derek Whitmore with eight goals and two assists for 10 points.  Those stats were helped a long by a four goal game for Whitmore.

The ECHL has a salary cap and if Toledo isn’t expecting him back they likely made the deal to help clear some cap space, sometimes teams in the ECHL often do when players are called up.

Rankin has been out since December 27th due to this hit to the head against the Oklahoma City Barons and is expected to return tonight against the Oklahoma City Barons.  Taylor Chorney of the Barons was suspended for three games for the hit.

100,000 Fans

Attendance is up more than 55% this season for three reasons: Cheaper tickets, return of the Buffalo Sabres and a hockey team that is successful on home ice and battles it out in every game.  For those reasons the 100,000th will enter the War Memorial on Thursday night and be rewarded with a team autographed jersey, stick and seats in a suite. The team has averaged 5,441 fans for a total of 97,933 through the first 18 home games of the season.

The question is.. will bells and whistles goes off when the 100,000th ticket is scanned at the gate or will they be picking someone after the fact?  Who’s going to count to 2,066 fans and then walk through the gate to try and be that person?

Check back later today for updates on everything above!