The AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have made an intriguing add, signing former New York Rangers prospect Evan Vierling to an AHL contract for the 2023-24 season. Vierling joins Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as one of the most highly sought-after free agents entering the pro ranks from juniors this offseason.
In his final season in the OHL with the Barrie Colts in 2022-23, Vierling demonstrated the offensive prowess the Rangers had envisioned in him when they selected him 127th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. He led the Colts with 60 assists and 95 points, and his 35 goals ranked second on the team behind San Jose Sharks prospect Ethan Cardwell. Vierling also led Colts forwards in playoff scoring, tallying 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in seven games.
Born in Aurora, Ontario, Vierling also received the esteemed William Hanley Trophy this season, awarded to the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player. He became the first player from the Barrie Colts to receive the award in its 48-year history.
The Rangers allowed his rights to expire last June by not extending him an entry-level contract. After registering just over a point per game in his draft year, split between Barrie and the Flint Firebirds, COVID stripped Vierling of a crucial development season in 2020-21, and his offensive pace took a step back the following season.
Nevertheless, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and, likely by extension, their NHL affiliate Pittsburgh Penguins, see remaining potential in Vierling’s abilities after a bounce-back season in juniors. A relatively well-rounded player, Vierling’s focus now turns toward acclimating to the professional game and trying to earn an NHL look, either with Pittsburgh or elsewhere.