It’s official. The Rangers have signed Michigan State center Patrick Khodorenko, one of the better NCAA free agents available. The Blueshirts, thin at center depth in the system, really only had Morgan Barron as a legitimate prospect. They now add Khodorenko, who will immediately join the Hartford Wolf Pack on an ATO for the remainder of the season.
Khodorenko has put up back-to-back-to-back 30 point campaigns with Michigan State, and this year’s 33 points (16-17-33) was 33% more than the second highest scorer on the team. He was, however, passed over completely in his draft year (2017), but he was trending downward at the time, which impacted his draft stock. At 6’0″ and 205 lbs in his draft year, he was not dominating the way someone his size should at that level.
From his draft profile on SBN, Khodorenko is strong on the puck and in front of the net, while also possessing decent puck skills. However his speed and skating really took its toll on him in his draft year. As always, it’s about the skating ability.
What changed for Khodorenko was just that: he got much better on his skates. He’s not going to wow you, he doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he’s gotten better to the point where he earned his entry level deal. That’s an important aspect, and something the Rangers hone in on – constant improvement. He has the physical strength and tools to be a useful center, projecting as a bottom-six center, but if anything slows him down –literally and figuratively– it will be his ability to keep up at the NHL level.
Khodorenko is still a project, and may not even make it to the NHL. But at the very least, he’s someone that shores up the lack of center depth in the prospect pool and strengthens the Hartford Wolf Pack. Seriously – Steven Fogarty and Danny O’Regan are the two highest scoring centers on the team. They could use a little jolt. If that’s the worst case scenario, then this no-risk signing is already worth it. At the best case scenario, he’s a 3/4C who can be relied upon in all three zones.