The New York Rangers have signed Union College defenseman Mat Bodie to an entry-level contract, according to ESPN New York’s Katie Strang.
#NYR College free agent defenseman Mat Bodie’s agent, Brian Bartlett, confirms to ESPN that his client has agreed to a deal with Rangers
— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) April 15, 2014
Strang also says that Bodie is remaining at Union College to finish his degree and will join the Rangers at the team’s development camp this summer.
Bodie, 24, was a key cog and the captain for Union College on their road to winning the NCAA National Championship this past weekend. He earned 8 goals and 31 asssists in 40 games this season as a senior.
Bodie’s bread and butter is as an offensive defenseman, as evident by his statistics. From the few games I’ve seen of him, he’s got a blistering slapshot and is just generally well-rounded in the offensive zone.
Jeff Cox of SB College Puck, who knows far more about Bodie than I do, gushes about his demeanor and personality.
@Herman_NYRBlog his intangibles and leadership are terrific. Offensive dman, needs to improve play in D zone to be a legit NHL blueliner
— Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSBNation) April 15, 2014
Cox also did a piece on Bodie prior to the championship game, with quotes from teammates and his head coach highlighting how hard of a worker he is and how his personality reverberated in the Union locker room. I suggest reading that.
The United States of Hockey’s Chris Peters also has some good analysis of Bodie. I also suggest reading that, but here’s a sample:
“He’s aggressive and reads plays extremely well at both ends and has excellent recovery speed. He distributes well and was a big part of Union’s ability to burn teams in transition and out-possess just about everybody. He’s a guy that can drive the play.”
Bodie is not a blue-chip prospect by any means but he’s definitely a smart addition by Gordie Clark and the scouting staff. Yes, he is 24, but we’ve seen time and time again how some of these undrafted defensemen are late bloomers; Torey Krug is currently on fire for the Bruins while Conor Allen and Raphael Diaz are two examples on the Rangers alone. Anyone who watched the Wolf Pack this season saw a desperate need to upgrade the blue-line, so if nothing else he’ll be some good depth for Hartford. He also addresses an organizational need, which is a shooting defensemen. Conor Allen is an offensive-minded defensemen but mainly in the mold of a skater and puck mover. McIlrath and Graves both have great shots but are defensive-defenseman. Bodie is a guy who theoretically could play the point on the powerplay and racks up a few goals with some bombs.
Like Cox said, Bodie has a good amount of work to do defensively to get to the NHL standard, but in my viewing he’s not a total disaster in his own end, either. At only 165 pounds (and that might be generous) I think the Rangers will want him to add some muscle as well. If the stars align, then I think he could be a #4-5 offensive-minded defenseman. He’s going to start next season in Hartford, I imagine, and wouldn’t be hurt by a full year of development in the AHL.
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