New York announced late today that they have also signed defenseman Anthony Bitetto to a two year contract. The Island Park, NY native joins the Rangers after playing a career high 51 games for the Winnipeg Jets as they struggled to overcome the loss of Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba.
At 30 years old, Betitto could fill the seventh defenseman role in the same way that Steve Kampfer did for the Rangers a couple of seasons back. Since being drafted by the Predators in the 6th round of the 2010 draft, Bitetto has played 183 games for the Predators, Wild and Jets. The signing by the Rangers, brings him back close to his birthplace near the Connecticut border.
Used mostly as a call-up for third pair duty, Bitetto has enough experience to perform in limited duty mostly from a defensive perspective, but provide some extra insurance against form and/or injury concerns.
Last season he set career highs with 51 games, 8 assists, 8 points, +3 plus/minus, 32 penalty minutes and 54 shots on goal, not awful for a guy called upon to fill in. Given the Johnson signing, and the potential from guys like K’Andre Miller and Tarno Reunanen as well as the somewhat known quantiy of Libor Hajek, the Rangers have a few options on defense, even if the upside on some of those options is pretty limited.