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After signing goaltender Chris Nell last week, the Rangers have continued to restock their cupboards with another NCAA free agent signing in Vinni Lettieri.
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 27, 2017
Lettieri attended the 2015 Rangers rookie development camp as a free agent invite and has stepped onto the ice with several current Rangers. That list includes Blueshirts captain Ryan McDonagh, alternate captain Derek Stepan, as well as rookie blueliner Brady Skjei and prospect Steven Fogarty. Just this past summer he played in the Da Beauty League, a summer league composed of Minnesota natives from various levels of hockey.
A native of Excelsior, MN, Lettieri spent the last four years playing forward at the University of Minnesota. His first two seasons were spent alongside Brady Skjei. Coming off of a career year, Lettieri became a sought after college free agent. A solid two-way player with great speed, his offensive game blossomed this season with increased ice time centering Minnesota’s second line. Lettieri produced 37 points in 38 games with the Golden Gophers this season, an improvement over the prior season’s 26 points.
Lettieri is expected to sign an amateur tryout with the Hartford Wolfpack so that he can play out the remainder of the season in a professional league. The Wolfpack, however, are at the bottom of AHL’s standings. Given the success of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the ECHL, it may benefit Lettieri to get some ice time there during a postseason push.
Given Hartford’s struggles this season, changes are likely to come especially with forwards such as Marek Hrivik, Daniel Catenacci, and Chris Brown set to be free agents. Lettieri is in a position, along with WHLer Ryan Gropp, to challenge for key minutes for the Wolfpack if he is able to bring the strong play he demonstrated this season to a professional level.