The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Justin Richards on an entry-level contract. Richards' contract begins at the start of the 2020-21 season.
Richards, 22, skated in 34 games with the University of Minnesota Duluth this season, registering 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points, along with a plus-14 rating and 14 penalty minutes. He was selected as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's (NCHC) Best Defensive Forward in 2019-20. Richards ranked fifth among all players in the NCAA in faceoff wins this season (434), and he posted a 59.0% faceoff win percentage during the season. He was also tied for first in the NCAA in shorthanded goals in 2019-20 (three). Richards established a career-high in goals this season and was tied for second on the team in goals in 2019-20. Minnesota Duluth posted a 15-3-1 record in games which he notched a point this season, including a 10-2-1 record in games which he registered a goal. Richards recorded 10 points (six goals, four assists) over the final seven games of the season, and he tallied two goals, including the game-winning goal, in his final career collegiate game on Mar. 7 against St. Cloud State. Richards served as one of the team's alternate captains during the 2019-20 season.
The 5-11, 190-pounder skated in 120 career collegiate games over three seasons (2017-18 - 2019-20) with the University of Minnesota Duluth, registering 26 goals and 40 assists for 66 points, along with a plus-40 rating and 38 penalty minutes. Richards helped the University of Minnesota Duluth win the National Championship in each of his first two seasons, and he was named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team in 2019. Richards was named the NCHC's Best Defensive Forward in each of the last two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), and he was also named to the NCHC's Second All-Star Team in 2018-19, as he established collegiate career-highs in points (32), assists (20), and plus/minus rating (plus-20) during the season. Richards skated in each of Minnesota Duluth's 120 games over his three seasons at the school. He posted a plus/minus rating of plus-six or better in each of his three seasons, and he registered 57 points (26 goals, 31 assists) and a plus-34 rating in 76 games over his final two seasons.
Richards, who was born in Orlando, Florida and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, played one season with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL) prior to beginning his collegiate career. He registered 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) and a plus-two rating in 59 games with Lincoln during his only season in the USHL in 2016-17.