As the Rangers organize a mass exodus of their prospects to the European leagues. One name is surprisingly absent from this list. Tarmo Reunanen, who has spent the last four seasons in Finland, is not currently on loan to a team in Liiga yet. Reunanen, who signed his ELC with the Rangers last year, was loaned last year and was expected to be loaned this year.
Reunanen has had a pair of strong seasons with Luuko, putting up seasons of 6-19-25 in 58 games and 5-14-19 in 51 games. He plays a very well rounded game, makes a smart first pass, and is generally very poised with the puck. He was the highest scoring defenseman on the team in that 25 point season.
Penciled In For An NHL Role?
The Rangers are very thin on left defense. Their top LD following the Brady Skjei trade was Brendan Smith. With Smith likely gone to clear cap space, Ryan Lindgren and Marc Staal are your left defensemen. It’s assumed K’Andre Miller will need a bit of time in the AHL, despite a strong camp showing in July. There’s no need to rush him from the NCAA’s to the pros.
Since both Yegor Rykov and Libor Hajek are on loan, that leaves Reunanen. Hajek can be recalled, but let’s be real, he wasn’t that good. Based off Hajek’s NHL performance, the Rangers have nothing to lose by seeing what Reunanen can do. Remember, he’s been playing in the top Finnish league for a few years now.
While certainly not a guarantee to make the club, Reunanen is what the Rangers need right now. He plays a very smart game and is a solid puck mover. Lindgren has been good, but he’s not a noted puck mover. The left side of the defense was exploited by Carolina for their inability to move the puck, and Reunanen partially addresses this.
Just Waiting For A Different Loan?
Reunanen is not currently listed on the Lukko roster page. That could change, of course. The way things are going, it looks like any loan that isn’t to the KHL or SHL will be a temporary loan. Perhaps the Rangers are waiting for a Finnish team to take Reunanen on temporary loan. There has to be a Liiga team that could use Reunanen for a few months.
Given the uncertainty of the AHL and NHL seasons, there’s reason to believe the Rangers are just waiting for the right team. NHL/AHL camp likely isn’t starting until November at the absolute earliest. That would give Reunanen an extra month or so before camp begins.
A Trade Looming?
Yes I know, this is just me being irresponsible. If the Rangers are truly looking at the trade market for a LD, then Reunanen could be an attractive piece. He’s 22, he appears ready to make the transition to the NHL, and he’s pretty good and cost controlled. These are all things that make attractive trade pieces.
This is pure speculation, but a team that is dealing with a pricey extension on a young asset could view Reunanen as a potential replacement. If the Rangers go this route, then they’d still have players like Zac Jones and Matthew Robertson in the pipeline. It’s a constant cycle.
The fact that Tarmo Reunanen has not been sent on loan yet is a little surprising. It appears that the Rangers want him to compete for a roster spot. But why not loan him out now to get his feet under him before the season starts?