Former San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins defenseman Kyle McLaren has earned a training camp try-out from the New York Rangers. The 32-year old defenseman is currently listed on the team's 44-man Training Camp Roster.
McLaren spent last season in the AHL with the Worcester Sharks after failing to crack a stacked San Jose blueline in the fall. His season in AHL exile followed a 2007-2008 campaign in which he struggled with a persistent knee injury and played just 61 games.
The twelve year NHL veteran was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2009 NHL trade deadline, but the deal was nixed when he failed his physical because the hand he had broken in a fight during a December 10th game against the Springfield Falcons had not yet fully healed.
McLaren returned to the Worcester lineup on April 3rd, playing the final five games of the regular season before facing the Hartford Wolf Pack in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
When asked how his team planned to deal with the Wolf Pack's dynamic top line of Artem Anisimov, P.A. Parenteau and Brodie Dupont during a radio interview prior to the start of the series, Worcester head coach Roy Sommer revealed his intention to match his top defense pairing of McLaren and Mike Moore against the trio whenever he could.
Remember how Rangers GM Glen Sather said after the draft-day acquisition of forward Brian Boyle that it was Boyle who shut down Anisimov in the AHL playoffs last season? Didn't happen. Boyle didn't even play for Worcester. It was McLaren and Moore who were matched against the sophomore center -- who was playing without concussed winger P.A. Parenteau -- on practically every shift. The duo performed admirably, and held Anisimov to just two points over six playoff games. (Technically three, but that's a story for another day.)
There's a fairly large jump in the level of competition between the AHL and NHL, but McLaren looked good against the Pack in the playoffs -- obviously good enough to pique the Rangers interest and convince them to offer him a try-out.
The Humboldt, Saskatchewan native earned $2.5m last season, but his agent, Neil Abbott, went on record last month saying he and his client understood that McLaren is "a reclamation project", adding that they're not looking for a big payday, just the opportunity to play.
If he's truly healthy, the physical, stay-at-home defender could prove to be a reasonable, cheap, veteran option for the 6/7 slot on the Rangers blueline this season.