Ville Nieminen

Nieminen and Ward Join Team

Cup Finalist Ville Nieminen Joins Rangers
The fourth day of the NHL free agency period brought yet more signings for the New York Rangers.  Ville Nieminen, a member of the Calgary Flames squad that lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning, has reportedly signed a two year contract for an undisclosed sum.  Known for his ability to get under the opposition’s skin, the 28 year old Finn will join his fifth NHL team after stints with Colorado, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Calgary.

Drafted by in the 3rd round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Nieminen spent parts of three seasons with the team before being traded along with Rick Berry to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the deal that brought defenseman Darius Kasparaitis to Colorado.  A relatively ineffectual stint with the Penguins lead to his free agency in 2003 and his signing with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Dealt at the deadline to the Flames, Nieminen immediately found a home and registered 3 goals and 8 points in the final nineteen games of the regular season and a further 4 goals and 8 points along with 55 penalty minutes in 24 playoff appearances.

The 6-0 210lb Nieminen spent last season playing for his home team Tampere in the Finnish SM-Liiga and amassed 14 goals and 13 assists in 26 appearances.

 REGULAR SEASON
YearTeamGPGAPtsPIM+/-PPSHGGWSOG
1999-00COL1000000002
2000-01COL501482238820368
2001-02COL5310142430110572
2001-02PIT131238-200011
2002-03PIT759122193-2502186
2003-04CHI602111340-1510056
2003-04CGY1935818600127
Totals 271395291227-274210322


Rangers Sign Free Agent Forward Jason Ward

The Rangers added some more depth today with the signing of former free agent right wing Jason Ward to a contract.  The former 1st round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, did not receive a qualifying offer and became a free agent after having failed to live up to expectations in the past five seasons.  Selected 11th overall in the 1997 draft, Ward has spent his five years as a professional splitting time between the AHL and NHL.

Ward spent the 2004-05 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs where he registered 20 goals and 54 points along with 66 penalty minutes in 77 appearances, down from his career highs of 31 goals and 72 points in 2002-03.  Ward spent the majority of the last NHL season with the NHL club, and registered 5 goals and 12 points along with 21 penalty minutes while averaging just 12:39 of ice time toiling on the Canadiens’ 3rd and 4th lines.

 REGULAR SEASON
YearTeamGPGAPtsPIM+/-PPSHGGWSOG
1999-00MON3221310-110024
2000-01MON120001230004
2002-03MON83250300010
2003-04MON53571221320156
Totals 10510102043830194


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