Once a highly-touted prospect, it looks as though defenseman Rob O’Gara will need to work his way back into the NHL. Newsday’s Colin Stephenson reports that O’Gara has signed with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. The 26-year-old was a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer after failing to play in 80+ NHL games through his first three pro seasons. Yet, 2018-19 was his first campaign without any NHL action.
A late-round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2011, O’Gara played four seasons at Yale University and grew into one of the most effective two-way defenders in the NCAA during that time. He signed with Boston in 2016 and immediately became a key player at the AHL level and also made three NHL appearances. He played in eight more NHL games for the Bruins the following season, but was traded to his hometown New York Rangers in exchange for Nick Holden. O’Gara finished the season with the Rangers, playing in 22 games down the stretch and looking like a candidate for a regular role moving forward.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out this past season. O’Gara was cut from training camp and never re-emerged as a top recall option, even as the Rangers struggled. O’Gara was a solid defensive presence for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, but didn’t take advantage of a full year in the minors with an improved offensive contribution. As such, the local product did not earn a new deal with New York and seemingly was unable to find a two-way role with any other NHL team. In San Antonio, he will have to reassert himself as a legitimate NHL option with a consistent, well-rounded game if he hopes to one day make it back to the top level.