2017-18 saw the New York Rangers have an influx of young talent. With that, there is one player that everyone seems to be forgetting about.
As the 2018-19 NHL gets closer, there are plenty of players that New York Ranger fans are excited to see when training camp starts. However, there is one player that seems to be forgotten, Vinni Lettieri.
The Blueshirts signed Lettieri prior to the start of last season, seeing something in the 23-year-old forward that other teams chose not to. He had a brief stint on Broadway a season ago skating in 19 games. Despite only seeing limited playing time, he should be a part of the team in 2018-19.
Throughout the last few seasons, the Blueshirts have been predominantly known as an unselfish team. A team that would rather set up a teammate than take the shot for themselves. In his small sample size, Lettieri has shown that he is not afraid to take the shot when needed.
Lettieri posted 28 shots in his action with the Blueshirts, and although he only had a 3.6 shooting percentage, he was never hesitant to put the puck on goal.
Not only is his ability to put the puck on net impressive, but so is the fact that he is always noticeable on the ice. He never gives up on a shift, and seems to always do something that makes you say who was that out there? He sort of reminds some of Mats Zuccarello who does just that on a nightly basis.
The Zuccarello comparison might not work in terms of production, but it does work in terms of height. Lettieri stands at five feet 11 inches tall, and Zuccarello stands at five feet eight inches. Both have to work a little bit more compared to the taller players in the game, but both have the ability to put the puck in the back of the net and put up points.
Even with that, there are a couple of issues surrounding Lettieri, first being his position. He slots as a center, a spot that the Rangers quite frankly do not have any room for at the NHL level. Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Chytil, and Andersson are all expected to be the Blueshirts four centers coming out of training camp. This leaves Lettieri on the outside looking in when it comes to playing his natural position.
However, Lettieri does have experience playing the wing, which might just be his ticket to playing at the NHL level with the Blueshirts.
The other issue surrounding Lettieri is that when the Rangers were making their moves at the trade deadline a season ago, he was never given another chance at the NHL level.
Now you could look at this from many different angles. One being did former head coach Alain Vigneault not want him on the roster? Vigneault always seemed to be hesitant to give younger players a legitimate chance at the NHL level. Another angle here is whether or not general manager Jeff Gorton felt he deserved another shot at the NHL level following the team’s moves.
If Lettieri never got a legitimate chance to prove his worth due to Vigneault, he’ll be given a legitimate chance with newly hired David Quinn.
As the rest of the summer unfolds, Lettieri should be coming into this season with one thing in mind, making an impact at the NHL level if given the chance. A chance that should come his way regardless of whether or not there is not a spot for him at center.