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Rangers claim enforcer Cody McLeod off waivers from Predators

Nashville Predators left wing Cody McLeod (55) follows

Nashville Predators left wing Cody McLeod (55) follows the puck in Game 5 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series on May 5, 2017, in St. Louis. Credit: AP / Jeff Roberson

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Cody McLeod, whom the Rangers claimed off waivers from the Predators on Thursday, jokingly lobbied Rangers coach Alain Vigneault for a job last season.

“I remember last year when we were in Colorado, he stood in front of my bench and said, ‘Hey, Coach, are you looking for a tough fourth-liner?’ ’’ Vigneault said about the longtime Avalanche enforcer. “So it took me a year to sort it out. Everything I know about him, he’s got a role, he’s got an identity, he’s a good team player, and we felt that considering our depth situation, it was the right thing to do.”

To be sure, the move adds some truculence: McLeod, 33, an 11-year veteran who has amassed 1,524 penalty minutes, will join the Rangers after the All-Star break. He played 10 seasons with Colorado before being traded to Nashville in January 2017.

“He brings a dimension that’s different than what we have,” said Vigneault, who twice discussed the idea of claiming the 6-2, 210-pound McLeod with general manager Jeff Gorton after Nashville waived him on Wednesday.

In 23 games this season, McLeod averaged 6:49 of ice time, collected 72 penalty minutes and had a goal and assist. He is in the final months of a three-year contract that averaged $1.3 million per season.

McLeod had a career-high 191 penalty minutes with Colorado in the 2014-15 season. He played in all 82 games.

It is conceivable that McLeod was brought in to provide some protection for the first-round draft picks who could be summoned from Hartford later this season — centers Lias Andersson (selected No. 7 overall) and Filip Chytil (No. 21).

Andersson captained the silver-medalist Swedish team at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo and earned an assist in his AHL debut Wednesday. Chytil is 7-11-18 in 22 games with the Wolf Pack. Forward Daniel Catenacci, who made his Rangers debut against Colorado on Jan. 20, was returned to Hartford.

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