Developing defensemen to play in the new-age, speedier NHL is a mission for most clubs.
Here are five youngsters who have a chance to impress at the Rangers’ annual weeklong prospect camp, which opens Monday at Madison Square Garden Training Center:
Signed as a free agent in April, the 23-year-old lefty has played parts of four seasons in the KHL. Last season with Mettallurg, he led all KHL defensemen under age 24 in assists (19) and tied for fifth overall. The 6-4 blueliner averaged more than 22 minutes on ice per game.
The Belgium-born blueliner, 19, who was selected in the third round of the 2016 draft, blossomed last season in the OHL, with 15 goals and 37 points in 63 games with Mississauga and Windsor. An impressive skater for his size (6-2, 231), Day was granted “exceptional” status and allowed to play in the OHL at age 15.
A 21-year-old righty who had seven goals and 27 assists in 42 games in his second year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Pionk ranked fifth among NCAA defensemen in points. The 6-foot, 190-pound Minnesota native was named USHL defenseman of the year in 2014-15, and after being pursued by many NHL teams, was signed as a free agent in May.
Collected five assists in nine games with Hartford last season after coming out of Penn State, where he established a school record for points by a defenseman with 30, and made the Big East All-Star team. Pedrie, 23, who had played in the USHL, led NCAA defensemen in shots on goal (167).
Another righty, the 20-year-old Russian had seven goals and 40 points in 63 games with the WHL Regina Pats last season. The 6-4 defender posted a stunning plus-72, leading all three Canadian major junior leagues.