35-Year-Old Center – Free Agent
Ryan Craig Contract Information:
Became an unrestricted free agent in July 2015.
Craig announced his retirement Friday and will be joining the Golden Knights' coaching staff ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Ryan Craig.
AHL veteran Craig provides organizational depth for the Blue Jackets.
The journeyman forward managed 11 goals and 30 points in 68 AHL games last season with the Pittsburgh organization. Craig has played in nine NHL games since the start of the 2009 season.
Craig, a 29-year-old centerman, spent most of 2010-11 with Wilkes-Barre of the AHL, where he was named captain by his teammates. That pretty much sums up his value to the teams he plays for, where heart and grit count for more than numbers. Although Craig put up 48 points (19 G, 29 A) in 71 contests for the Baby Penguins, he's totaled just 63 points (32 G, 31 A) in 190 career NHL games -- all for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played in parts of six games with Pittsburgh last year, recording 22 PIMs and six hits to go along with a minus-3 rating and no points. Craig signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Pens in the offseason and will once again spend the bulk of his days in the AHL, barring injury.
Craig will have a tough time making the Pens out of camp. His upside is perhaps 15 goals as the team's No. 3 center, but a lot of things have to happen for that scenario to take place. Most likely, Craig will split time between the Pens and the AHL. It's doubtful he provides much fantasy impact other than as a mid-season waiver wire pickup.
Craig's career has been filled with stops and starts, in large part due to injury. At 27, he's not going to get any better than we've already seen. He could get occasional time on the PP where he doesn't mind the abuse he gets down in the kitchen. But otherwise, he's a lower-line winger with value only in leagues where penalty minutes are heavily weighted.
Craig remains a poor man's Tomas Holmstrom -- his true value lies on the power play. He's also versatile and can play every forward postion. But with Tampa's depth at forward, he won't get much of a shot for ice time at even-strength or on the PP.
Craig, a rookie in 2005-06, had 15 goals and 13 assists in 48 games, a total that would have stretched to nearly 50 points had he played the entire season. He finished sixth on the Bolts in power-play tallies with six and was the first Lightning rookie to score 10 goals since Brad Richards did it in 2000-01. He plays his best hockey down deep in the kitchen, which means his potential could lie as a better Tomas Holmstrom-type (with more leadership potential). He will see regular time on the power play this year and has the heart to win himself a spot skating with either Richards or Vinny Lecavalier. Watch the preseason carefully and if he does win a spot on a scoring line, he will be more valuable than you think.
Craig is your prototypical lunch-bucket kind of guy. His heart and determination outstrip his skill-set, but that won't stop him from having a long and relatively prosperous NHL career. He's destined to take over the mantle of captain from Dave Andreychuk (yes, he has that kind of leadership) and this will be the year he earns his first NHL stripes. He's the kind of guy who will be much better on ice than in a fantasy arena, but he might be a 35-40 point guy in the future. Just not this year or next.