Three New York Rangers depth signings that have provided a huge help this season
This has been a relatively quiet season in terms of trades and signings for Jeff Gorton. I am also including the offseason leading up to 2020-21. There was no big free agent signing like Artemi Panarin in 2019-2020, but the Rangers GM made a series of low key acquisitions. Three of them have played a huge role in helping keep the Blueshirts treading water through struggles and injuries.
Kevin Rooney has been a steady effective player
When Jeff Gorton signed 27 year-old Kevin Rooney I was immediately enthused. The former rival with the NJ Devils was a tough and gritty player with no qualms about throwing the gloves to stand up for himself or a teammate. Last season in NJ he had nine points in 49 games and was a key penalty killer.
Now the center/winger has proven why he was such a great and inexpensive signing. Through 29 games this season he has eight points in 29 games and is a key member of the Rangers 2nd PK unit. In games where he’s scored a point the Blueshirts are 5-0-3.
Not bad for a two-way contract worth $750,000 for this season and next.
Colin Blackwell’s offensive play has been welcome
Another astute signing by Gorton was depth forward, Colin Blackwell. He didn’t make the team out of camp but was called up from the Taxi Squad on January 24 and proved his versatility to be invaluable. The 27 year-old fully understands this could be his last chance at staying in the NHL and isn’t wasting a single second of any shift.
When the team needs him to move up and play second line minutes he’s done so effectively. If he needs to play a checking role in the bottom six, he’s done well there too. In 22 games this season he’s accumulated 10 points with six goals. Blackwell has also been effective in his limited PP time scoring twice.
An excellent signing at two years and $725,000.
Keith Kinkaid may have saved the season
The Rangers needed a goalie to expose to the Seattle Expansion draft this summer. Rules are clear that they must expose a goaltender, and Igor Shesterkin is exempt. Which means in order to protect Alexandar Georgiev they needed to sign Keith Kinkaid.
That really was the extent to the importance of his signing.
Then Shesterkin went down with injury and Georgiev just lost his ability to effectively stop pucks at the same time. Kinkaid, the 31 year-old goalie from Long Island was thrust into action and kept the Rangers from falling into the abyss. The local boy became the first goalie born in the New York Metropolitan area to ever start a game for the Rangers on 3/9/21.
He’s now back on the taxi squad with Shesterkin healthy, but his 3-1-1 record with a .908 SV% and a 2.22 GAA may be one of the keys to the season. All for the low-low price of $825,000 for two years.
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