On Sunday the New York Rangers confirmed their signing of Swedish free-agent forward Malte Strömwall to a two-year contract worth $1.85 million.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have agreed to terms with free agent forward Malte Stromwall.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 17, 2016
Most replies to the tweet ask a pretty fair and simple question: "Who?"
So, who is Malte Strömwall and what are the Rangers getting for their money?
21-year old Strömwall was a teammate of 2015 third-round draft pick Robin Kovács at AIK last season, leading all skaters in goals and points en-route to the Allsvenskan championship. His campaign tailed off disappointingly, though it still represented Strömwall's most consistent stretch of play in over two years.
Strömwall has SHL experience with Växjö, Luleå and HV71, but these patches have been brief and he has rarely managed to stick in one place long enough to get a real run of games. He spent time at four different clubs in 2014/15, including each of the above three, so dropping down to Allsvenskan and skating consistent top-six minutes made sense from a developmental standpoint and has proved to be a wise decision.
Much of what Strömwall does well can be said of Kovács too. He is a fast, agile skater with an excellent shot that loves to carry the puck and strike quickly. The pair fit well together and I'd not be surprised at all to see the NYR ink Kovacs to an entry-level deal this summer with an eye toward them playing alongside one another in Hartford next season.
Strömwall is a goalscorer first and foremost, but he can make quick decisions on the puck to set up a team-mate too.
Like most 21-year old players, Strömwall has creases. His defensive game needs work and it remains to be seen whether or not he can consistently produce beyond a single season. But two years spent with the WHL's Tri-City should mean he has little issue re-adjusting to North American ice and his signing represents a low-risk high-reward addition by the Rangers at a time when they desperately need to refill the cupboard.
Upside is what makes Strömwall intriguing. Nobody knows if he will be able to put it together at the highest level and he may need a good amount of time to get there first, but he has core strengths to build on that are almost impossible to teach. For cap space alone he is a gamble absolutely worth taking.