The Post has learned that the Rangers are expected to fortify their defense by signing 29-year-old Swedish free agent Patrik Nemeth.
The marriage cannot be consummated until the market officially opens at noon on Wednesday, but The Post has learned that the Rangers are expected to fortify their defense by signing 29-year-old Swedish free agent Patrik Nemeth once the bell rings.
Nemeth, who went to the Avalanche from the Red Wings as a rental in the days prior to the trade deadline, is another one of those hard-to-play-against guys whom general manager Chris Drury has targeted since taking command on May 5.
The deal would likely be for two or three years, worth between $2.25-$2.75 million per season. The Avalanche have given permission to Nemeth to speak to other teams in advance of the opening of the market.
A veteran of 366 NHL games, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound Nemeth is a big-bodied lefty who plays a simple, stabilizing game, is strong is in own end and will protect the front of the net. He can be a nasty one, blocks shots, has a good stick, can make the first pass and not coincidentally at all, should be a stabilizing influence on his projected third-pair partner and fellow Swede, Nils Lundkvist.
It will be important for the Rangers to make Lundkvist — who turns 21 on Wednesday — as comfortable as possible on and off the ice in his transition to the NHL and North America. That is something, quite frankly, on which the previous regime whiffed when Kaapo Kakko joined the club out of Finland two years ago.
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 prime penalty killer, likely means that young Zac Jones will get necessary time to gestate with the AHL Wolf Pack (if he is not dealt this summer) after having played 10 games for the Blueshirts last season directly out of UMass. It also should slow the rush of 20-year-old lefty Matt Robertson.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but defensemen generally benefit from an apprenticeship in the American League. The Islanders’ Formidable Three of Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield, who excel at not allowing opponents to get to the front, played a combined 491 games in the AHL, none with fewer than 101 contests with Bridgeport. That axiom should apply to Jones, Robertson and righty Braden Schneider, who will turn 20 during training camp.
The Blueshirts should enter camp, then, with the redoubtable Batman-and-Robin pair of Ryan Lindgren and Norris winner Adam Fox at the top followed by the K’Andre Miller-Jacob Trouba tandem and Nemeth-Lundqvist on defense.
Nemeth, a second-round, 41st-overall selection of Dallas in 2010, was paired primarily with either Conor Timmins or Ryan Graves while getting 15:46 per in Colorado’s playoff run that ended with a second-round, six-game defeat to Vegas. The Swede was credited with 87 blocked shots in 52 regular-season matches.
The Rangers are believed to be still searching for a veteran with size-and-strength attributes to assume the role as seventh defenseman after the club decided to move on from impending free agent Brendan Smith.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Larry Brooks