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Rangers add third NCAA free agent in six days with signing of Vince Pedrie

Wisconsin forward Aidan Cavallini (23) passes the puck

Wisconsin forward Aidan Cavallini (23) passes the puck while defended by Penn State defenseman Vince Pedrie (24) during the second period of the final in the Big Ten college hockey tournament Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Detroit. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

SAN JOSE — In an effort to bolster their AHL roster and give college players an opportunity to show their skills at the next level, the Rangers signed their third NCAA free agent in the past six days on Tuesday: Penn State defenseman Vince Pedrie.

Pedrie, 23, who played in the USHL before joining the Nittany Lions, had 30 points in 39 games, and led NCAA defensemen in shots on goal. The Rochester, Minnesota, native, who has a plus-27 rating, was named to the Big Ten First All-Star Team.

On Monday, the Blueshirts inked another Minnesotan, free- agent forward Vinni Lettieri, 22, who had 19 goals and 37 points in 38 games as a senior with the University of Minnesota, where Brady Skjei played. “Always been a good player, hard working, good shot, skater, he’s got all the tools,” Skjei said.

Last Thursday, Bowling Green State goaltender Chris Nell started the U.S. signee trend. Nell, 22, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, appeared in 34 games this season, going 17-14-2 with a 2.15 GAA, a .916 save percentage and four shutouts.

All three signed two-year entry-level contracts worth $925,000 per season.

Cautious with Klein

Kevin Klein, who played 20:10 against the Ducks on Sunday in his first appearance after being sidelined for 15 games with back spasms, skated in the morning but did not dress. “He felt a little tightness, so I’m not using him in [consecutive] games,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

Nash a ‘Good Guy’

Rick Nash was named the recipient of the annual John Halligan Good Guy Award for cooperation with the media in a vote by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. “As an assistant captain, you’re a pipeline to the media,” he said. “I’ve been a captain before [in Columbus], so . . . I just take the approach of being honest and open about situations.”

New York Sports