The Rangers are expected to strengthen their defense by signing 29-year-old Swedish free agent Patrik Nemeth once the market opens at noon on Wednesday, according to The Post.
Nemeth, who joined the Avalanche as a rental from the Red Wings just before the trade deadline, is another of the hard-to-play-against players that general manager Chris Drury has been after since taking over on May 5.
The contract would most likely be for two or three years, with a per-season value of $2.25-$2.75 million. The Avalanche have given Nemeth permission to speak with other teams ahead of the market’s opening.
Nemeth, a 6-foot-3, 228-pound lefty with 366 NHL games under his belt, is a big-bodied lefty who plays a simple, stabilizing game, is strong in his own end, and will protect the front of the net. He has a nasty streak, blocks shots, has a good stick, can make the first pass, and should be a stabilizing influence on his projected third-pair partner, fellow Swede Nils Lundkvist.
In his transition to the NHL and North America, the Rangers will need to make Lundkvist — who turns 21 on Wednesday — as comfortable as possible on and off the ice. That is something on which the previous regime blundered when Kaapo Kakko arrived from Finland two years ago.
After playing 10 games for the Blueshirts last season straight out of UMass, the addition of Nemeth, who can move up and down the blue line ladder as directed by head coach Gerard Gallant and should be a top penalty killer, means that young Zac Jones will likely get the necessary time to gestate with the AHL Wolf Pack (if he is not dealt this summer). Matt Robertson, a 20-year-old lefty, should be slowed as well.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but defensemen in the American League generally benefit from an apprenticeship. Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Scott Mayfield, the Islanders’ Formidable Three who excel at preventing opponents from getting to the front, played a combined 491 games in the AHL, none with fewer than 101 games with Bridgeport. Jones, Robertson, and righty Braden Schneider, who will turn 20 during training camp, should all benefit from this axiom.
The Blueshirts should go into camp with Ryan Lindgren and Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox at the top, followed by the K’Andre Miller-Jacob Trouba duo and Nemeth-Lundqvist defense pairing.
Nemeth, a second-round, 41st-overall pick of Dallas in 2010, spent most of his playoff time with either Conor Timmins or Ryan Graves, averaging 15:46 per game in Colorado’s six-game second-round loss to Vegas. In 52 regular-season games, the Swede was credited with 87 blocked shots.
After deciding to move on from impending free agent Brendan Smith, the Rangers are believed to be still looking for a veteran with size and strength to fill the role of seventh defenseman.