What Vinni Lettieri needs to do to stay with the Rangers

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Vinni Lettieri is heading into a very important situation this year, as his two-year entry level deal ends come Summer 2019.

Lettieri had a fairly strong rookie campaign with the Rangers organization, but the good majority of his time was spent in Hartford. There, he had 36 points in 55 games, including 23 goals, good for first on the team. Lettieri’s 36 points were third on the team, impressive considering the fact he played just 55 games.

Lettieri was called up to the big time on December 28, 2017, and notched his first NHL goal the night after, against Detroit. Unfortunately, that would be his only goal this past season, as he remained with the club until February 25, amassing five extra assists.

It’s going to take a bit of work if Lettieri wants to up his game to the next level. He has plenty of competition to beat out, including newly signed prospect Ville Meskanen, who is coming over from Ilves of the Finnish Liiga. He also has to deal with high-profile prospects like Ty Ronning and Michael Lindqvist, who both have good chances to make the team this year. Ronning, a seventh-round pick of the Rangers back in 2016, set the Vancouver Giants goal record this past season with 61.

So what does Lettieri need to improve upon to make sure he’s a staple in Broadway?

Let’s take a look.

First off, Lettieri needs to be more aggressive and physical on the puck. Looking at the little amount of clips there are of him, he tends to shy away from hard hits, and doesn’t engage much. He had only 22 hits in his 19 games, and exactly 0 penalty minutes. That is a good thing, but it can also mean that he’s not getting active in the forecheck, or in the defensive zone.

This is the main reason that could lead to a season in Hartford for Lettieri. The NHL is getting faster and more skilled, but there is still a huge place for physicality. Lettieri does a great job of having a high amount of urgency in his game, and possesses a big shoot-first mentality.

Ultimately, Lettieri’s defensive game will make or break his shot at the NHL, but only time will tell us the result.

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