High praise for Moose’s Ryan

Bobby Smith sees a little of himself in Halifax Mooseheads rookie Andrew Ryan.

Bobby Smith sees a little of himself in Halifax Mooseheads rookie Andrew Ryan.

High praise considering the Mooseheads owner/head coach was one of the NHL’s elite players through the 1980s with the Minnesota North Stars and Montreal Canadiens.

Smith views the lanky left-winger from Paradise, N.L., as someone he can mentor.

“I envision (Ryan) becoming a centreman like I was and being a high-end guy,” Smith said of the 16-year-old Mooseheads rookie.

“He reminds me of myself a little bit ... I think I’m uniquely situated to help Andrew really advance his career in the next couple of years.”

Smith set the Ontario Hockey League’s all-time record for points in a season with an astounding 192 as an Ottawa 67 and then became the first overall pick in the 1978 NHL?draft.

When told of the comparison after a recent Mooseheads game, Ryan struggled for a response.

“That’s a compliment. I don’t know how to take that,” stammered Ryan, who was drafted 19th overall last June. “That’s a great compliment coming from a guy who played so many years in the NHL.

“I’ve just got to try my best to follow in his footsteps.”

According to Smith, Ryan is on the right path. The six-foot-two, 186-pounder has four goals in 19 games and will represent Atlantic Canada at the world under-17 challenge in December.

“He’s a terrific player,” Smith said. “He’s exceeded our expectations. He’s probably a better player at 16 than we thought he’d be.”

Smith said despite his tender age, Ryan has the ability to be an impact player at the major junior level immediately.

“I know he’s 16, but there’s no reason why he can’t be a very good player in this league, this year. And he’s going to be a scary (good) player in the next couple of years.”