Ryan Bayda was a smart and skilled winger with exceptional work habits. He lacked speed but he could not out worked. And, for a small player, he often surprised with his zealous play along the boards.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan born Bayda attended the University of North Dakota, where he studied Communications. After three solid seasons, including a NCAA championship in 2000, Bayda turned pro in 2002.
The Hurricanes drafted Bayda with their second choice, 80th overall, in the third round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He apprenticed in the minor leagues for more than 50 games before being given an extended look with 25 games Carolina in the 2002-03. Bayda would score four goals and fourteen points, and looked at home on a top line with veterans Ron Francis and Jeff O'Neill.
Francis, the classy Hall of Famer and franchise legend, was among the most impressed. He praised the young Bayda's offensive hockey sense and determination. There were high hopes that Bayda could emerge as a top six player in Carolina, possibly with a young Eric Staal who he played with at times in the minor leagues.
But it never happened.
Bayda suffered through a miserable second season. He only scored three goals and six points in 44 games and finished the year in the minor leagues.
Bottom line seems to have been that Bayda did not quite have the ability to be a top six forward, nor the skill set to thrive on the bottom two lines. Everyone loved his work ethic, but he just did not seem to be the right puzzle piece.
Bayda would play mostly in the minor leagues for the next four seasons. In 2008-09 he played his only full NHL season, scoring five goals and twelve points in 70 games.
Bayda hoped to turn his NHL season into a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Penguins, signing with the team in the summer of 2009. He would never play for the Pens, as an injury riddled season limited him to just 21 games in the minor leagues.