Archive for Signings
The Rangers have apparently signed forward Justin Fontaine, and immediately placed him on waivers to send to the Hartford Wolf Pack. The news on both broke from one seemingly innocuous tweet from Elliotte Friedman, who stated that Fontaine was on waivers for the Rangers. Friedman is rarely wrong, but most immediately thought Gabriel Fontaine, 2016 draft pick.
In fact, it is Justin, who will go to Hartford to replace the now departed Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe has gone to Switzerland, and has been released from his contract with the Rangers. Fontaine will be that veteran presence among the forwards in Hartford. He will also play a scoring role with the club. My guess is that, given his relative success with Minnesota over the last few seasons, he will be the first injury call up in these next few weeks.
The Rangers have the same amount of contracts/forwards in the system. When Oscar Lindberg returns, one more forward will be sent to Hartford as well.
The Rangers have made another shrewd signing, inking free agent forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million, per Elliotte Friedman. Pirri is another low-key forward who has solid rate metrics, which suggest he could see an increase in production if given more time.
Pirri scored a whopping 22 goals in 49 games with Florida in 2014-2015 (with just two assists), and had that balance out a bit last year with a line of 14-15-29 with the Panthers and Ducks. The 25-year-old forward will likely be a bottom-six player with the Rangers, possibly insurance in case Pavel Buchnevich isn’t ready.
The Rangers have a lot of flexibility on the bottom six right now, something they didn’t have last year. In that regard, it’s been a solid offseason for Jeff Gorton. The depth the Rangers have is incredible.
The Rangers have landed their guy. Jimmy Vesey is now a Ranger, signing a two-year entry-level deal to be in New York.
Vesey was the most sought after NCAA player that became a free agent on August 15. In landing him, the Rangers get a middle-six forward for the bare minimum, a huge need for a team that needs bargain scoring.
Vesey, originally a third round pick of the Nashville Predators, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, where he did not sign. It’s expected Vesey will make the roster out of training camp.
Per Mark Divver, the Rangers have agreed to terms with NCAA free agent defenseman John Gilmour. Josh wrote about Gilmour, who is a left-handed defenseman our of Providence College. The former 7th round pick for Calgary is a strong skater who makes good decisions with the puck. He’s the type of “new-age” defenseman teams want, in that he can quickly transition to offense with a strong first pass out of the zone.
Gilmour put up career highs in his senior season, with a line of 9-14-23. The 5’11, 185 lb defenseman signed a two-year ELC, and will likely spend the first year at Hartford, where he will complement Ryan Graves on the left side.
The Rangers have re-signed RFA Marek Hrivik to a one-year deal. Hrivik was the last RFA the Rangers needed to sign, and barring any trades, will be the last move the Rangers make this offseason. Hrivik has spent the overwhelming majority –just 5 NHL games– of his four year career in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack, putting up an impressive 12-29-41 in 68 games last season.
Hrivik might compete for a fourth line role in camp, but with some of the signings made, it appears he is still on the outside looking in. Hrivik would be a good fit on the fourth line as a good skater who is competent defensively. It’s unlikely the offense would translate to the NHL level, though.
The 6’1, 197 lb winger makes a better option than some of the other options that are going to be in camp this year. It will be interesting to see how long of a look he gets.
Per Renaud Lavoie, forward Maxim Lapierre will be brought into training camp on a PTO this September. Lapierre has that old school “gritty” reputation as a defense-first fourth line guy who can help the penalty kill. Problem is that he isn’t that guy. He’s that guy in the way that Dan Paille was that guy this past winter.
The 31-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, opting to play overseas in Switzerland and Sweden. He is familiar with Alain Vigneault though, as a member of the 2011 Vancouver Canucks that went to the Stanley Cup Final.
This isn’t anything to get all pissy about, it’s a PTO, and it’s unlikely Lapierre makes the team. The only concern is that this is now the second of “AV’s guys” brought in to fix a problem, and the guy brought in only exacerbates the problem.
Per Renaud Lavoie, the Rangers have signed defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy to a three year entry level deal with a $724k (and change) cap hit. The big (6’4, 195 lb) defenseman was the Rangers third round pick in 2015, and was a bit of a surprise pick by the Rangers in that spot.
Zborovskiy is big defenseman, and honestly that’s all there is to say about him. His numbers improved last year, putting up 8-17-25 in 64 games, an improvement on 3-16-19 from the prior year. He’s a decent skater for his size, and is smart and physical.
Zboro, as I’m going to call him because that last name is a pain to type, is going to spend a while in the WHL. He’s 19 now, turning 20 in February. He will have this season and possibly next in the WHL before coming to the AHL.
The Rangers have locked up their last remaining RFA, agreeing to a two-year deal with Kevin Hayes. The deal will carry a $2.6 million cap hit. Hayes will be 26 when the deal expires, with one year left of team control.
I would have liked Hayes to get a longer term deal, but I seem to be in the minority regarding his play. Hayes is a solid 3C producing at 1C levels, and it’s a reasonable assumption that with more playing time, he will produce more as well. Yet others believe that Hayes is lazy, mostly because he sounds like he’s had a lobotomy when he talks.
Hayes will be the teams 3C, likely serving as the primary center for Pavel Buchnevich in mostly sheltered zone starts. He is expected to “rebound” from his “down year” as well.
Per Aaron Ward, the Rangers and Chris Kreider have agreed on a multi-year contract, avoiding today’s arbitration hearing. The deal is for four years at a $4.625 million cap hit. The deal keeps Kreider signed through his age-28 season, and buys two years of unrestricted free agency.
This is a solid deal for the Rangers, as Kreider could have received more money based on the Kyle Palmieri deal. The numbers are actually lower than initially reported, which is also great news. Kreider’s skill set is very difficult for opponents to match up against, as his size and speed are a rare combination in today’s NHL.
Kreider will be a lock for a top-six spot, and look to improve on his past two seasons, where he put up 21 goals and 20+ assists in each season.
The Rangers have signed their fourth player today, inking prospect Robin Kovacs to a three year entry level deal. The 19-year-old winger (20 in November), the Rangers third round pick in 2015, had a very impressive season last year in the SHL. As a boy among men, Kovacs had a 20-goal season and put up 34 points in 44 games.
It was previously expected that Kovacs would spend another year in the SHL before coming over to North America. I am unfamiliar with how the transfer agreement between the SHL and the NHL works, but I’m assuming that if he signed, that he will play in the AHL next season.
Bringing Kovacs to the AHL is great news for a team that needs young, cheap talent infused into the lineup regularly. Kovacs is among the top prospects in the system, and projects to be a good middle-six forward if he continues to develop. Following up his strong age-19 season with a solid showing in his rookie AHL season is a good start.