The New York Rangers have signed free agent goaltender Chris Nell, the Rangers announced.
Nell, 22, had just completed his junior season with Bowling Green State University, posting a .916 save percentage in 34 games. Here is what SBN College Hockey wrote about Nell last March:
The Falcons already have one former free agent goalie starting in the NHL in Andrew Hammond, and Nell could be next. Nell is only listed at 6'1" but he has a lanky frame and positions aggressively, allowing him to cover a lot of net and really cut down on angles. He's developed more consistency in his sophomore season, raising his save percentage from .917 as a rookie to .930 as a sophomore.
It appears that Nell’s stock dropped with some mediocre showings earlier in his junior season, but he played his best hockey in the second half of the season and helped Bowling Green make a somewhat surprising run to the WCHA Championship.
Bowling Green is far from being a traditional hockey school, though they did have some success in the past, but neither is Cam Talbot’s alma mater, Alabama-Huntsville. It benefitted Talbot in that it meant he faced a lot of shots during his collegiate career, which ultimately made him a better goaltender. It will be interesting to see how Rangers’ goaltending guru Benoit Allaire deals with the aggressive Nell, as he likes his goaltenders to be far more conservative. Nonetheless, the Rangers have had massive success finding goaltenders out of the bargain bin and hope Nell is the next example.
Also, the Hartford Wolf Pack have signed 2016 seventh-round pick Ty Ronning to an amateur tryout. Ronning, a forward, had a decent enough year in the WHL, with 25 goals and 28 assists in 68 games on a terrible Vancouver Giants team. The Wolf Pack are dead-last in the AHL with little to play for, and so it won’t be surprising if Ronning is thrown into action to gain the pro experience. It will also give the Rangers a better idea of where Ronning, 19, is at in his development. Though he is eligible to sign an NHL contract and turn pro next season, the Rangers might instead decide an overage year in the WHL serves him best and defer the decision on whether to sign him another year.