The New York Rangers will be signing one of their international prospects, as they have agreed to terms with Tarmo Reunanen on a three-year entry-level contract. Reunanen played his first full season in Finland’s Liiga in 2018-19.
Reunanen, 21, was the 98th selection in 2016 despite having missed much of his draft year due to injury. He was still ranked 53rd among international skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and the Rangers took a chance on him because of the huge offensive upside he had shown in the Finnish junior leagues. Unfortunately, that offense didn’t materialize for the first two years after he was drafted. With just three points in 27 Liiga games and 11 points in 44 Mestis (Finland’s second league) contests, it looked like his development had slowed.
Not so fast, as Reunanen exploded this season playing for Lukko, registering 25 points in 58 games. The young defenseman became just the fifth 21-or-under blue liner to register at least 25 points in the last decade, joining Sami Vatanen, Esa Lindell, Ville Pokka and Sami Niku in that group. Those names should inspire some confidence in Rangers fans hoping they have found a gem in the middle rounds. His ability to carry the puck efficiently through the neutral zone should bode well for his chances in North America, though he’ll have to make sure he can stand up physically in his own end.
The Rangers are building quite the pipeline of talent on the back end, with players like Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox, Libor Hajek, Joey Keane and K’Andre Miller all looking like legitimate NHL options in the future. Add that to the kind of offensive firepower they’re cultivating in names like Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and of course the soon-to-be-picked Kaapo Kakko or Jack Hughes, and the Rangers are obviously moving in the right direction.