The New York Rangers have come to terms with one of their pending restricted free agents, signing Matt Puempel to to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $725K for next season. The extension will now allow the Rangers to expose Puempel and one other forward to fill their exposure requirements for the expansion draft.
Puempel was claimed off waivers by the Rangers mid-season from the Ottawa Senators and ended up playing 27 games for the club down the stretch, registering nine points. The former first round pick hasn’t impressed since being selected 24th overall, but still has time to grow into the offensive potential that he showed in the OHL. A natural goal-scorer, his shot is definitely ready for an increased role, but the rest of his game has lacked consistency to get him there. He’s clearly shown an ability at the AHL level, but has averaged only 10 minutes per night in his various NHL stints.
The Rangers will have to expose another forward who fills the 40/70 games played requirement, but this gives them several options now. Michael Grabner and Kevin Hayes both represent possibilities, and the team could also give an extension to one of several other players including Tanner Glass and Jesper Fast. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers try and push Puempel into an increased role next season, or if he is destined to play the role of 13th forward once again. Vegas could also find some use for him, as scoring ability will be hard to come by in the expansion draft. If they believe his upside is that of a 20-goal man in the NHL one day (even with his defensive deficiencies) they might take a chance to try and acquire him one way or another.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported the financial details of the contract.