3 Rangers team up with former Blueshirts forward in summer hockey league

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Vinni Lettieri hasn’t forgotten his New York Rangers roots.

As one of the captains in the Da Beauty League, a summer hockey league featuring NHL players in Minnesota, the former Blueshirts forward made sure to load up on current Rangers when the annual draft was held Tuesday.

Lettieri, who had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 46 games over two seasons with New York, landed defensemen Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller and forward Jonny Brodzinski in the draft. The only one of the three Lettieri played with in New York was Lindgren, briefly, in the 2018-19 season. That was Lettieri’s final season on Broadway and Lindgren’s first five NHL games.

Though Lettieri never played with Miller or Brodzinski in New York or the NHL, all of these players in Da Beauty League know each other from growing up and living in Minnesota. Many played with or against each other in youth leagues, high schools and/or in college before turning pro.

The Da Beauty League debuted in 2015, creating an opportunity for local NHL and NCAA players, as well as those from other pro leagues, an opportunity to play some competitive hockey when training in the offseason. There are four teams in the league, and each plays seven games before the playoffs. Games take place on Wednesday nights at Braemar Arena in Edina, Minnesota, from July 10 – August 28.

Bragging rights are serious in the Da Beauty League but fun is a big component of the games, too. The 4-on-4 format consists of two 23-minute halves, with each team having one two-minute “hot puck” sequence each game where any goal scored counts double.

Overtime is admittedly “goofy,” per their own web site. OT is decided in a unique shootout format where the first team to three goals wins. However, each team is shooting at the same time and as soon as a player shoots, he races to his bench and a teammate hops on the ice to take his turn.

Needless to say, the amount of chirping between the players reaches great heights during these games and OT periods.

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Current, former Rangers taking part in summer Da Beauty League

NHL: New York Rangers at Minnesota Wild
Vinni Lettieri with Rangers in 2018 — Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Lindgren, Miller, Brodzinski and Lettieri will play for Team Walser this summer. Interestingly, defenseman Nick Jensen is also on that team. Jensen, you may recall, hurt Rangers defenseman Adam Fox with a knee-on-knee hit in Game 4 of the first-round series between the Blueshirts and Washington Capitals this past spring.

Other notable NHL players on Team Walser are defensemen Brock Faber and Jake Middleton and forward Nick Bjugstad.

There are several other players with Rangers ties participating in the DBL this summer. Former Blueshirts captain Ryan McDonagh, an original member of the league back in 2015, was selected by captain Brock Nelson to play for Team Anderson, along with Rangers nemesis Jake Guentzel. And former Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei is on Team Tria after being selected by captain Nate Schmidt.

In an interesting plot twist, Nelson didn’t select his Islanders teammate Anders Lee, who ended up along with Skjei on Team Tria. Hmmmm.

Da Beauty League won’t be the only thing on Lindgren’s mind this summer, of course. The 26-year-old restricted free agent is in contract negotiations with the Rangers and recently filed for arbitration. Since Lindgren can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, the Rangers do not want an arbitrator to hand the defenseman a one-year contract and walk him right into UFA status. So, the sides are trying to work out a longer-term contract, though the length of this deal could be a sticking point between the sides — Lindgren seeking more years than New York is likely comfortable with.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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