By his own admission, Derek Ryan’s contributions to the Edmonton Oilers during its Stanley Cup playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings have not been “flashy.”

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound center/right wing has appeared in five of the six games, recorded one assist, one point and spent two minutes in the penalty box. Nevertheless, he’s found other ways to help the Oilers.

“Playoff time calls for contributions of all kinds and from everyone,” Ryan told the Deseret News. “My game isn’t the flashy kind that ends up on the scoresheet all of the time, but I think that my work ethic, defensive play, face-offs and penalty killing are a few of the ways that I contribute to the team’s success.”

Ryan, a native of Spokane, Washington, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints.

Giving up alcohol and following in his father's footsteps led to hockey star Brad Mills joining the LDS Church

The 35-year-old’s Edmonton Oilers avoided elimination with a gritty 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of the NHL playoffs Thursday to set up a Game 7 showdown in Edmonton on Saturday.

Ryan’s journey in professional hockey has taken him and his family all over the world. After four seasons at the University of Alberta, he played professionally in Hungary, Austria and Sweden before signing with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015.

He played three seasons with Carolina, then another three seasons with Calgary before signing a two-year deal with Edmonton in July 2021.

Edmonton Oilers’ Derek Ryan (10) falls to the ice after colliding with Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Matheson (5) in an NHL hockey game.
Edmonton Oilers’ Derek Ryan (10) falls to the ice after colliding with Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Matheson (5) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. The Oilers won 5-1. | Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

Game 7 of the NHL’s West divisional semifinals between Edmonton and Los Angeles is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

If the Oilers defeat the Kings in Game 7, they will play the winner of the Calgary Flames-Dallas Stars series.

Ryan talked about his spiritual journey and answered questions about his faith and career in a video devotional in February 2021.

The Deseret News caught up with Ryan for a short interview while he was traveling with the Oilers back to Edmonton for Game 7 with the Kings.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.

Deseret News: How do you feel about the team and the way everyone is playing going into Game 7?

Derek Ryan: We feel great. Last night was a huge win, and we are excited for Game 7 on our home ice. 

DN: How would you describe your experience playing with the Oilers this year?

DR: It’s been a bit of a roller coaster year, with lots of ups and downs. But that’s normal in the life of an athlete, and I think this group has done a great job weathering the hard parts of the season and battling adversity together. 

DN: What is it like being a Latter-day Saint in a sport where your values and standards clearly stand out?

DR: I’m not sure there are any other Latter-day Saints in the NHL, so it’s definitely a unique situation. But there are plenty of others who have faith in our Savior and who live righteous lives. I’ve never had a problem living up to my standards while playing in the league and I’ve found everyone to be extremely accepting and understanding of my values. I also feel like Heavenly Father has given me this opportunity so that I can have positive influences on those around me. Living up to gospel standards is a great example to others around us. 

DN: How has your faith been a blessing to you in your career?

DR: My faith has been everything to my career. It’s the foundation that I fall back on through the hard times and it’s the place I give praise to when times are good. My faith and my family are the two biggest sources of joy in my life, and hockey is just a conduit for me to build my faith and provide for my family. At the end of the day, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to play hockey at such a high level and to have had the life experiences that I’ve had through hockey. I’m very lucky and blessed. 

DN: What has been the biggest challenge in your hockey career? 

DR: I probably don’t have enough time to elaborate fully, but my journey to the NHL has been a unique one. I’ve played Canadian university, pro in Europe, minor leagues in North America and now the NHL. It was a long and unconventional path to the NHL to say the least. So I would say that my biggest challenge has been to persevere through lots of different twists along the road, meanwhile being able to maintain the belief that Heavenly Father has a plan for me. As it turns out, there’s no question that he does. 

DN: What has been the highlight of your career?

DR: The highlight of my career so far is probably scoring my first NHL goal in my first game. My family was in attendance and it was a special moment for everyone. I had a hat trick this season, so that would be in the running too. 

DN: What difference has the support and stability of your family made in your hockey career?

DR: My family has been my rock throughout my career. My wife, Bonnie, is the glue that holds everything together at home. We have two kids at home, Zane (8) and August (5), and she also runs her own interior design business and social media presence. She never ceases to amaze me. Like I said before, my family is a big part of what brings me joy and happiness in life. Being able to come home to them and see their smiles is the best thing that a dad can ask for.