One of the most frequently asked questions this offseason after, “is Rick Nash a Ranger yet?” has been, “who the heck is Kyle Jean?”
The answer is simple: he’s the latest gem uncovered by Gordie Clark and New York’s superior scouting staff, which has developed something of a Midas touch over the last couple of years.
It wasn’t long ago that the Rangers were completely incapable of even getting a high first-round pick right. But now, Clark and company are unearthing NHL caliber prospects not just through the draft’s later rounds, but even from the ranks of those that have long been completely ignored throughout their junior careers.
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This news broke yesterday, but it’s now official that the Rangers have signed prospect Kyle Jean. Jean was a non-roster invitee to the Rangers development camp, and clearly impressed the organization with the way he played in camp.
The 22-year old forward played the last two seasons with Lake Superior State in the CCHA, where he put together a total line of 13-25-36 in 77 games played. Prior to his college stint, Jean played in the NAHL for three seasons, where he put together a total line of 44-36-80 in 136 games.
Jean likely won’t make an NHL impact for a few years, but this is a key depth signing for the CT Whale, who were losing five forwards to free agency.
Via Darren Dreger, the Rangers have agreed to sign winger Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal worth $1.55 million annually. The 30-year-old spent the last three seasons with the Coyotes, averaging 13-11-24 while playing in at least 73 games each year. Pyatt has also spent time with the Islanders, Sabres, and Canucks. I’ll leave the in-depth analysis up to our resident experts.
Entering the first day of free agency it was widely thought that the Rangers would seek to upgrade their offense and add a depth defender.
Instead, the Blueshirts added grit on July 1st while watching several of their own free agents depart for greener pastures.
Here’s what went down on Sunday.
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Well, the day has arrived. It is July 1, and the Rangers are currently at $50.4 million in payroll with 16 (17 if you include Michael Del Zotto) players under contract. The Rangers need at least one scorer, depth on defense (right-handed shot), and fourth line depth among the forwards. There are plenty of UFA names out there, with the biggest being Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but there are others like Shane Doan that might fit into the Rangers plans. Don’t forget to check out our free agency round table below to get all of our thoughts.
As the UFA names begin to drop, the trade market will also likely open up as well. The Rangers are rumored to be in on talks for Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash, but a deal will only be made if the asking price drops. Keith Yandle is also an attractive piece that is available.
Follow us after the jump for up-to-date signings and contracts for every move made today. Moves the Rangers make will be in bold.
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Via Larry Brooks, the Rangers have re-signed backup goalie Martin Biron for two years and $2.6M. The 34-year-old netminder posted a 2.46 GAA and a .904 save percentage in 21 games last year, capably filling in as the club was able to rest Henrik Lundqvist for the stretch drive. Re-signing Biron — or replacing him another solid backup — was a top priority this summer and it’s great to see it addressed in the days leading up to free agency.
In a season full of surprises, none was bigger than 22-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
The former Wisconsin Badger was stolen from Montreal in the laughable Scott Gomez salary dump, arguably Glen Sather’s greatest transaction as general manager of the New York Rangers.
McDonagh spent the first half of the 2010-2011 season quietly honing his game in Connecticut before being called up on January 3, 2011.
He immediately clicked with Michael Sauer, bolstering New York’s second defensive pair just in time for the playoff push.
But even McDonagh’s stellar rookie season couldn’t prepare us for his monster 2011-2012 campaign.
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Now that the 2011-2012 season is behind us, many have already turned their attention to free agency. But before you do, a word of caution.
July 1st always represents a feeding frenzy and fans pay close attention to the mercenaries that could be brought aboard to hopefully take their teams to the next level. The Rangers are notoriously active on the free agent market and will surely be a major player again this summer.
But before getting too excited about the players that could sign the dotted line with New York, remember that many of the men that switch teams won’t make quite as big an impact as we may convince ourselves to believe leading up to the kickoff of the signing period.
That’s not to say that all of the impending free agents have inflated values – Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are both bona fide superstars and could buoy their future employers to the next level as Brad Richards did for the Blueshirts.
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The signing parade continues. This time around, Oscar Lindberg has agreed to terms with the Rangers on an entry level contract. Lindberg was acquired by the Rangers in May of last year in exchange for prospect Ethan Werek. Lindberg was originally a 2nd round pick in 2009 by the Coyotes, and was acquired for his ability to add speed and face off prowess to the bottom six forwards.
Lindberg is not a high scorer (24 points in 87 games through two seasons in the SEL), but he is a prototypical defensive forward with speed who will dominate the face off circle. As noted this year, face offs are a big weakness for the Rangers, and Lindberg should help in that regard should he make it to the NHL.
The Rangers are beginning to make waves with their prospects and ATO candidates. Just a day after announcing the signing of Jesper Fast, the Rangers have announced that they have agreed to terms with UFA winger Marek Hrivik. Hrivik earned a lot of press coverage when he exploded in the AHL playoffs, leading Connecticut in goals (5) and points (9) in nine playoff games.
Hrivik will likely join the Whale for next season as well, but he’s a player you should keep your eye on. He could provide some nice scoring depth in the future. The press release is after the jump.
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