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NHL Draft

Ronning grateful Rangers took chance on him

Seventh-round pick attends prospect camp; father played 1,137 games in NHL

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Ty Ronning wasn't born yet when his father, Cliff, and the Vancouver Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

"My dad had a broken hand playing in that [series]. They froze it up," the younger Ronning, who was drafted in the seventh round (No. 201) by the Rangers at the 2016 NHL Draft, said Monday. "I think he actually had to look down a couple of times to see if he had his stick. He didn't know if he was holding it or not, because [his hand] was so frozen. He found a way to tape it. That was one of his stories.

"What history. I'm proud to be a Ranger. It's exciting times for myself and for my family."

Ronning skated as a member of the Rangers organization for the first time on the first day of New York's annual prospect development camp at MSG Training Center. Two days earlier, the 5-foot-9, 167-pound right wing who had 31 goals and 28 assists in 67 games this season for Vancouver in the Western Hockey League, was sitting on the couch with his family, eagerly waiting to find out which team would take a chance on him.

It was a special moment for Ronning, whose dad was a seventh-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in 1984. Cliff Ronning had 306 goals and 563 assists in 1,137 NHL games with St. Louis, Vancouver, the Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and New York Islanders.

"It was a quiet house for a while," Ty Ronning said of the mood in his family's home Saturday. "I'm projected fourth round, and then you end up seventh. You know what? Some guys don't want to give a smaller player a chance. I'm 5-9. All I need is a chance, and I'm going to take full advantage of it.

"[My dad] said it was probably one of the best fits for myself as a player. Look at players like (Rangers forward Mats) Zuccarello. Wow, what a player. You know what? I admire his play. I kind of want to be just like him. It's something special. He's ecstatic. It couldn't be a better fit so far."

Ronning was six years old when his father played his last NHL season with the Islanders in 2003-04. One of his fondest memories, besides having the opportunity to watch his dad play, was visiting him on Long Island.

"He lived right by a beach," Ronning said. "We'd go to his house, and there was pizza boxes stacked to the roof because my mom wasn't there because we were in Vancouver. [There was] Kraft dinner everywhere. That was his kind of nutrition for games. He kind of lived off that. He was excited to see my mom come to New York and cook for him. She's a great mom and a great wife."

Monday started a week-long process for Ronning and other Rangers prospects to show what they can bring to the organization. It's all but a certainty Ronning will return to Vancouver this fall for a fourth season of junior hockey, but he hopes to one day have the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden in front of his family. If nothing else, he's grateful the Rangers were willing to take a chance on him the same way the Blues took a chance on his father 32 years ago.

"You want to prove some teams' wrong that passed up on me," Ronning said. "But you know what? I'm with the best organization in the NHL. I'm happy as can be. I think New York is a great fit for myself and my style of play and what they need and what they want. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it.

"I'm a seventh-rounder. So was my father. He played 20 years (in the NHL). Just getting drafted is a great thing. It's going out there and performing every day and trying to do your best every day." 

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