The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with Vinni Lettieri on a one-year contract, leaving them with just three restricted free agents to sign this offseason. Lettieri decided not to file for arbitration despite being eligible, and will still be an RFA when this contract expires.
The 24-year old Lettieri was one of the top college free agent signings in 2017, but still hasn’t quite found his offensive touch at the NHL level. Despite scoring 85 points in 112 minor league contests, the former University of Minnesota standout has just eight in 46 games with the Rangers. That and the increased talent up front from a busy offseason will make it extremely difficult for the young forward to land an NHL spot out of camp, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him as one of the very first call-ups if the team runs into injury trouble.
Luckily for the Rangers, Lettieri is still waiver-exempt for the time being and can be sent down without trouble. That will give the team some flexibility over choosing their opening day roster, a group that is still unclear at the moment. Brendan Lemieux and Pavel Buchnevich would both figure into that lineup but are without contracts currently—Buchnevich has an arbitration hearing scheduled for next Monday—while the future of players like Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov is still unclear after both have been included in trade rumors over the summer.
At the very worst, Lettieri will serve as a top offensive option for the Hartford Wolf Pack as they try to turn around their fortunes. The team went 29-36-11 last season and finished in 28th place.