Update: The Rangers officially announced the move. The contract is a two-year deal that begins for the 2019-2020 season.
Newell, 23, is a left-handed winger who just completed his senior season at St. Cloud State. He led the number-one team in the nation in both goals (21) and points (47) over 39 games. He likes to shoot from everywhere in the offensive zone and puts the puck on net with frequency. From a bird’s-eye view, Newell is an intriguing prospect.
There are some questions about how his game will translate to the pro level, however. As great as his senior season was, his production in the prior three was somewhat underwhelming. He is (generously) listed at 5’10 and 150 pounds, which is tiny even by modern NHL standards. That in itself isn’t a dealbreaker, but it’s not certain that he is a dynamic enough player to compensate. His skating and puck skills are just okay.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic did not rank Newell in his top-35 free agent prospects list. While Newell did not make ESPN’s Chris Peters’ top-15 NCAA free agents list, Chris later acknowledged to me that he would have made the top-20.
For sure, Newell will fall closer to the back of the prospect depth chart rather than the front, but the Rangers have a number of contract slots open and Newell costs nothing except an entry-level contract. There are certainly worse ways to utilize open roster spots than by taking a low-risk gamble on an undersized forward coming off a breakout offensive season.