The New York Rangers are one of two NHL teams that are heavily pursuing 21-year-old college free agent Vinni Lettieri.
Hearing Gophers free-agent Vinni Lettieri (19 goals, 37 points) currently choosing between #nyrangers & #blackhawks. Both after him heavily— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 26, 2017
Lettieri had a breakout senior season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers this year. He ranks second on Minnesota in goals (19) and is tied for 30th in the nation in that same category.
Lettieri had more goals in his senior season than he had in his first three years in Minnesota combined. Fourteen of his goals came at even strength.
Back in 2013 Chris Dilks of SB Nation’s College Hockey blog offered his scouting report of a much younger (and smaller) Lettieri.
Despite his small stature, Lettieri isn't necessarily a blazing skater, but is deceptively fast because he has very quick feet, and has an above average shot for a player his size, which makes him a dangerous scoring threat. His offensive instincts and positioning are exceptional as well.
QUICK STRIKE!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 25, 2017
Minnesota jumps out of the gates in the 2nd period as Vinni Lettieri scores 30 seconds in. 2-0 Gophers. #NCAAHockey pic.twitter.com/PV7BV1zpbx
One of the reasons Lettieri went undrafted by NHL teams was his modest production in Minnesota through his first three seasons of college hockey. He was also undersized and has never had blazing speed. That combination kept him off wish lists on draft day.
The Minnesota native was the Golden Gophers most prolific faceoff man this year. Lettieri won 55.1 percent of his draws this year. Stepping into a role on the top line saw all of his counting stats go up, but it is his 19 goals that have the Blackhawks and Rangers calling him.
New York certainly could use another prospect in the pipeline, even one that has a very limited ceiling. Lettieri might not be someone to get excited about today, but his big senior year makes him worth an ELC gamble.
Some more young blood in Hartford is never a bad thing, especially for a Rangers team that continues to pawn off its draft picks and prospects in deadline deals.
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune expects Lettieri to make his decision today.