You figured it was only a matter of time before the Rangers grabbed a veteran off the scrap heap and now they have. Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports the Blueshirts have signed Lee Stempniak to a one-year, $900,000 contract.
The 31-year old Stempniak combined for 12g, 21a while splitting time between the Flames and Penguins last season. The 5′ 11″ winger hasn’t broken 38 points since a 52-point season in 2006-07 with the Blues. Stempniak was a power play force his first five seasons in the NHL as he averaged 15 extra man points a year, however, that average has dipped to just five the last four seasons.
The Penguins picked up Stempniak at the trade deadline last season to help sure-up their roster for the playoffs, but the right hander disappointed with just three points in 13 postseason games including just one (a goal) in the seven games against the Rangers.
Stempniak, who just completed a two-year, $2.5 million per contract, has hovered around the 50% Corsi mark (% of team shot attempts for vs. against when player is on the ice) the last four seasons, but has always had a plus Corsi Rel. (player Corsi compared to team average Corsi). That’s even more impressive considering the last three seasons he began shifts in the offensive zone only 29% of the time compared to 34% zone starts in the defensive end.
And most importantly…
A fun Lee Stempniak fact is that he was teammates with Tanner Glass at Dartmouth. Pierre McGuire is going to have a field day.
— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) July 19, 2014
The two obviously played together in Pittsburgh last season as well.
…so, I guess the Rangers organization doesn’t have as much faith in their top prospects as some might have hoped. This signing likely means one of Miller or Lindberg won’t be on the opening night roster. Now that doesn’t mean either won’t see extensive time in the NHL this season, but the acquisition of Stempniak could hamper their (and Fast’s) development.
…listen, Stempniak is what he is, he’ll give the Rangers 15g, 17a assists this season (close to Pouliot’s output), while providing veteran leadership.
…what’s also important is that he’s a right-handed shot, which will be huge for the Rangers lefty dominated power play that seemed to hamper St. Louis’ extra man effectiveness last season.
…as I mentioned above, his possession stats are still strong, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be successful in AV’s system. Plus at that price, it’s tough to complain about signing a player who is a proven commodity in the NHL.