Earlier today, the Rangers made it official. They signed defenseman Yegor Rykov to an entry level contract.
Acquired from the Devils as part of the Michael Grabner trade that also fetched a 2018 second round pick last year, the 22-year old Russian will make the transition from the KHL to North America this Fall. Whether it starts in the AHL or NHL depends on how he does in training camp.
Originally a Devils fifth round pick in 2016, Rykov spent the past few years in Russia where he played mostly with St. Petersburg SKA before moving to Sochi HC last season. In 47 games, he had three goals and six assists with 19 penalty minutes and a minus-4 rating. He added three helpers in six postseason contests. His best output came with SKA in ’17-18 when he posted 12 helpers and 14 points over 53 games.
A left skating defenseman, he’s listed at 6-3, 225 pounds by the Rangers website. Interestingly, Rykov paced HC Sochi skaters in ice-time averaging 21:36 during the 2019 Gagarin Cup Playoffs. His three assists paced all defensemen on the club. The three points tied for third overall on the team.
Due to his age, the ELC is only for two years. So, we’ll see how the Rangers manage him. Given the depth they boast in the system due to adding Hobey Baker finalist Adam Fox to a prospect pool that includes Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist among the notables, it gives the organization with another young player to look at. A surplus of D is never a bad thing.
Currently, the Rangers still have veterans Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith and Marc Staal. The younger blueliners include Tony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk and Brady Skjei. Both DeAngelo and Pionk are Group II free agents this summer. If they make changes, Pionk could be moved. That largely could depend on what happens this offseason and September. Fredrik Claesson is unrestricted. John Gilmour will leave following a career year with the Wolf Pack.
Both Hajek and Lindgren should have the inside track to making the NHL roster due to each playing five games for the Blueshirts in ’18-19. They’ll likely compete with Fox and Pionk (assuming he’s still here) in camp.
I’ll wait and see before drawing any conclusions on Rykov.