The chip on Ty Ronning’s shoulder might be bigger than he is.
The Rangers prospect, a seventh-round draft pick back in 2016, is hard at work in Arizona these days, getting ready for training camp in September. While he’s most likely going to be starting the season with AHL Hartford, everyone knows the Rangers are in a full rebuild, and will be fielding a lineup filled with young players. So, though the odds may be long, the 5-9, 172-pound Ronning knows there could be opportunity for a player like him this fall — especially with the Rangers having a new coach, David Quinn, which will mean a clean slate for everyone.
“Well, there’s a chance,’’ Ronning said during the recent Rangers prospect camp of his chances of making the Rangers. “For me, it’s about working hard and doing whatever it takes to make it — and not only do I want to make it; I want to last. And for that, I’ve just got to keep trusting the process and working hard.’’
The process has worked out so far for Ronning, who is coming off a 61-goal season with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants in his final season of junior hockey. He admitted he was a little stunned that he wasn’t drafted until the seventh round. His father, Cliff Ronning, played 17 seasons and 1,137 games in the NHL. One would have thought his last name alone would have gotten Ty Ronning an earlier look.
“It definitely stung a little bit,’’ Ronning said of being drafted so late.
But Ronning understands, better than most, that the round in which a player is drafted doesn’t matter when it comes to making it in the NHL. His father was a seventh-round pick himself, by St. Louis, in 1984. And Ty Ronning pointed out that Henrik Lundqvist also was a seventh-rounder, and Martin St. Louis wasn’t drafted at all.
“It’s just getting a chance,’’ he said.
Rangers director of player personnel Gord Clark explained why Ronning’s last name alone was not enough to get him drafted earlier than he was. The NHL game had changed since Cliff Ronning had played, Clark said. It had gotten faster. Ty Ronning wasn’t a fast skater as an 18-year-old, draft-eligible player, and his 31 goals that season weren’t enough to blow evaluators away. But the Rangers did like his two-way game, and they believed he was the kind of kid who would work hard to improve his skating. He’s done that, Clark said.
“He got faster last year,’’ Clark said. “He’s just got to keep getting faster, and he’s going to keep working on it. Cliff was an above-average skater. He had all those hands and everything else. And if Ty keeps working on that, then if he has those same qualities, he might get there someday.
“It’s who you want to put the time in, and the money in, is what we decide to do when we sign a player,’’ Clark continued. “And he had the characteristics of, he’s going to do everything he can. Some kids tell you they are, and they don’t follow through with it. He’ll follow through with it.’’
Ronning promises that he will. He’s all about working hard, and he’s determined to prove to all those teams that passed on him — multiple times — that they made a mistake.
“I like proving people wrong,’’ he said. “That’s what I’ve been kind of brought up doing, as a smaller guy. My dad’s done it in his career, and that’s what I try to do. Overall, I’ve developed into the player I am and the young man I am and I think it’s everything to do with hard work, and practicing, and the willpower to go out there, when no one’s watching, and just work. I do it for the love of the game.’’