Alex Belzile

Into The Depths

Chris Drury continued his busy day, inking another four players to near minimum values, in order to continue to build up the depth of the organization.  The free agent frenzy has now reached eight players, with the addition of two more forwards and two defenseman, and given the size of the contracts, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could still add more once the initial flurry finishes.

After picked up Wheeler, Quick, Pitlick and Nash in the first hour, the Rangers have now added 31 year old center Alex Belzile – who played in Montreal last year, and 35 year old Hartford native Nick Bonino, to go with depth defensemen Connor Mackey and Nikolas Brouillard.

Bonino is the most recognizable name, and could well be a guy who has the inside track now on the 4th line center spot.  He has seven straight seasons with 10+ goals, though at age 35, he’s perhaps more a fourth liner than the third line player he has been at times in his career.  Still he played almost 16 minutes a game last year, the majority of it with San Jose, before a trade deadline deal that sent him back to Pittsburgh where he played two seasons back in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

He also has familiarity with Peter Laviolette, having played under him for two and a half seasons back in Nashville, and perhaps it was one of the factors that tilted him towards New York.

In addition to Bonino, the Rangers added Alex Belzile.  A relative starter in terms of an NHL career, he has just 44 games to his credit, but did manage 6 goals and 8 assists in 31 games with Montreal last season.  Belzile could find himself in the mix for a fourth line spot, though will probably need a strong camp to beat out his opponents.

The defensive market has been fairly expensive as is to be expected, and perhaps unsurprisingly the two blueliners that Drury inked were fringe NHLers.  In the case of Nikolas Brouillard, he is a somewhat smallish defender at 5-11 170lbs, who played the last three seasons for San Diego of the AHL.  A bit more of a puck mover, than a defender, he’ll join a very undermanned blueline in Hartford.

Connor Mackey does have some limited NHL experience, with 39 appearances for Calgary and Arizona.  As it stands now, Mackey projects to be behind Ben Harpur in terms of depth on the left side, but perhaps could fill in with injuries.

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