The New York Rangers have signed undrafted college free agent Ryan Haggerty, the team announced today. Haggerty, a forward who just last week turned 21, just completed his third season with RPI and has 28 goals and 43 points in 35 games; both totals highest on the team by a wide margin. Here's what Rangers' Assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton had to say.
"We have watched Ryan closely the past few years and the two things that stick out the most are: he can score, and he has gotten better every year… We really like Ryan's work ethic and his drive to get better every day."
RPI's season is over and Haggerty is not eligible to play for the Wolfpack because he was signed after the trading deadline. Technically, Haggerty is on the NHL roster and Jeff Gorton claims he will be joining the team once they return from the current road trip. Theoretically, Haggerty could suit up for the Rangers at some point this season. At a minimum, he'll spend the rest of the season practicing with the NHL team.
I haven't personally seen Haggerty play, but he's been consistently tossed around as one of the top NCAA free agents for this year. At 6'0 and 180 pounds he certainly has the body type to translate collegiate scoring into some measure of NHL success. The United States Of Hockey's Chris Peters says that Haggerty has an "excellent shot" and is progressing in being stronger with the puck on his stick.
Meanwhile, SBN College Hockey rated Haggerty the 54th best NHL prospect in the NCAA, drafted or undrafted. Here's what they had to say about him.
"The RPI junior and USNTDP product started the season off with a bang and still has very solid numbers, but he was averaging a goal per game for the entire first semester. He has a hard shot and plays a bigger game than his frame suggests, but perhaps his best asset is his ability to see the play develop and be in the right spot at the right time. He plays with an edge, but needs to bring it every shift."
Signing undrafted players is a crapshoot and expectations should almost always be subdued. That being said, the Rangers have done very well turning NCAA signings into commodities, with Cam Talbot and Conor Allen being two relevant examples currently. Generally speaking, the team's NCAA scouting has been phenomenal the last five years. If they're willing to give him an NHL contract immediately and use a roster spot on him then the scouting staff views him favorably.
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