The Rangers have been active over the last handful of seasons by signing college free agents, both of the drafted and undrafted variety. But this summer the team looked outside the college ranks when it signed Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov to an entry-level contract in April.
The 23-year-old, whom the Rangers inked to an entry-level contract in April, skated in 60 games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk last season, finishing with a goal and 18 assist with a plus-nine rating, all while averaging 19:27 of ice time on a team that advanced to the KHL Final.
"We're very excited to get him," Rangers Assistant General Manager Chris Drury said. "He's a big guy that skates and moves and thinks like a skilled defenseman."
Drury said the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Bereglazov has a heavy shot and can play both sides of the ice.
Gordie Clark, the Rangers' director of player personnel, said he and his staff liked Bereglazov in his draft years, but that the defenseman "needed time" to develop.
"He wasn't ready for the draft in his year," he said. "That doesn't mean that you stop watching the guy."
Clark said the Rangers kept tabs on the defenseman and liked what they saw out of him in the Canadian Hockey League's Super Series in 2013 and again at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden, where he was teammates with Pavel Buchnevich.
Bereglazov had six assists in 13 playoff games for Metallurg, who lost the Gagarin Cup to SKA in five games after capturing the title in 2015-16.
While there is an adjustment for European players coming to North America - namely in the physicality and size of the rink - both Drury and Clark felt his experience as a pro would benefit Bereglazov at both prospect camp and main camp this fall.
"This guy is ready to - he's been playing at a high level," Clark said. "He should be able to go in [and battle for a spot]. You have to earn it but he's going in to challenge for a spot."