College free agents on the market for New York Rangers
You never know what could happen when you give a college kid a chance.
On Aug. 15, several college hockey players officially became unrestricted free agents after the teams they were drafted by did not extend an entry-level offer.
Per CapFriendly, the New York Rangers are at 45 out of a max 50 contracts. While the team has little space, or need, to add to the 2023-24 roster, there are some promising college free agents who could bolster the team’s young depth and develop in Hartford for however long it may be.
We mentioned a few names earlier this week that may be a good fit for a Rangers squad that has suddenly gotten much older. Let’s go into more detail on a few of these guys, below.
New York Rangers college free agent options
Jay O’Brien could be a sneaky get for the Rangers. The 2018 first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers has, albeit, not turned into the explosive center that the Broad St. Bullies’ organization expected him to be by the end of his NCAA tenure. However, his versatility and edge could aid the Blueshirts down the road, especially on the right side.
The former Boston University Terrier is a natural center but was shifted over to right wing towards the end of the season when the team hit a slump. The move worked and provided BU with a much-needed spark to propel them to eventual Frozen Four berth.
O’Brien has good speed and is quietly consistent. The 23-year-old battled a scoring drought at the beginning of the year, but found ways to contribute, made his teammates better and ended the season with a career-high 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists).
O’Brien was a power play staple on the first unit and has a distinct personality to his game. While not the biggest guy out there, O’Brien has a nose for scrums, will dish it out to the other team and easily gets under opponents’ skin.
The Rangers don’t desperately need O’Brien, but a signing could be one step in the right direction of mending the shallow pool of potential right-wing options for the team.
Kevin Wall is another right-winger who has strung together two consecutive productive point-leading seasons at Penn State to close out his four-year collegiate career with the Nittany Lions.
The 2019 sixth-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes topped the Penn State squad in scoring his junior and senior campaigns with 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) this past season. Wall’s cumulative NCAA 86 points ranks 10th on the all-time points list for Penn State and his 447 shots slot in at fourth all-time for the program.
It was somewhat predictable that the Hurricanes would not extend an offer to Wall seeing that starting this upcoming season, the club will not have an AHL affiliate. The Chicago Wolves announced in April that they would be going independent from Carolina –– the first AHL team to do so since 1994-95 –– following the conclusion of their three-year contract with the NHL team which expired after the 2022-23 season.
Wall, who stands at 6-foot-1, has solid size and real power in his shot. And he likes to shoot. The 23-year-old is good in transition and is able to find his slots around the net, not only looking for the lanes beyond the dots.
Robert Mastrosimone is a firecracker. The left-winger –– who can also play center –– has a topnotch competitive spirit and is heavily offensive-minded. Mastrosimone was selected 54th overall in the second-round of the 2018 draft by the Detroit Red Wings but is now looking for a new NHL destination.
The 22-year-old played his final year of NCAA hockey with Arizona State University after spending the previous three seasons at Boston University. Mastrosimone took on a bigger role, and more minutes, with the Sun Devils and was a motor for their offense throughout the season.
Mastrosimone posted 11 goals and 31 assists through 38 games played during his senior season. If the puck isn’t on his stick, Mastrosimone is hunting it down and has eyes only for the net. He had to learn to play more of a team game while at BU and steer away from individualistic play which no doubt aided his performance as an upperclassman.
Mastrosimone is on the smaller side and will need to bulk up a bit if he wants to make a run at the pros, but his silky hands and creative play making ability always made him stand out, at least at the collegiate level.
Jake Wise is officially off the table. While he was previously a name to watch, the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers locked up the 23-year-old with a one-year deal on Thursday.
Wise joined the Checkers at the end of last year for one regular-season game and one playoff game, logging one goal and two assists during his brief stint with the group. The forward previously finished up his collegiate career with Ohio State University and had 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in his senior campaign.