Defenseman Vince Pedrie is hopeful that his nine-game stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack to close out last season will benefit him heading into his first full year of pro hockey.
"I thought it was really important to get those games in with Hartford at the end of the year," Pedrie told NYRangers.com in a phone interview this week. "I don't know what to completely expect [next season] but I know a little bit of how it works and how the game is and how to prepare for it. Getting those games and seeing what the pace was like was really crucial for me to be ready heading into next season."
Pedrie, who signed with the Rangers in March after two seasons at Penn State University, said he felt a "connection" with the organization when he met with them as a free agent. He said the organization's history also played a role in his selection.
"It's pretty cool when you can sign with an Original Six organization" and the chance to play at Madison Square Garden would "be absolutely unbelievable."
Pedrie posted five assists in his nine games with the Pack. He said the biggest adjustment for him going from the NCAA to the American Hockey League was the skill level, namely in the passing that help to increase the speed of the game.
The 6-foot, 195-pound blueliner said the college game helped to prepare him for the bigger players he faced in Hartford.
Pedrie described himself as an "offensive, puck-moving defenseman that can help on the offensive side but still stay responsible in my own zone." He said his biggest assets were his ability to pass the puck out of trouble, his hockey IQ and his skating.
The Rochester, Minn.-native had eight goals and 22 assists for 30 points with the Nittany Lions last season, with his assist and point totals being career-highs and leading to him being named to the Big Ten First All-Star Team. His 30 points were the most by a defenseman in Penn State history.
Chris Drury, the Rangers' assistant general manager and Hartford's GM, credited amateur scout Jamie Harrington for tracking Pedrie throughout the season. Drury said when he and the rest of the staff started to watch him, the more they saw "the more we liked."
"He's super competitive and has a lot of polish," said Drury, who said he was impressed with his skating and his shot. "He does a lot of things well that you look for in a D-man in this day and age."
New Hartford Head Coach Keith McCambridge mentioned Pedrie by name as a player who impressed him last season - his first with the organization as an assistant coach with the Wolf Pack.
"When he came in at the end of the season he was a real polished, young defenseman who didn't look out of place," McCambridge said.
Pedrie is looking forward to another season playing for McCambridge, whom he said taught him a lot in a short span at the end of the year.
"I only played nine games but Keith was very instrumental for me being ready for an AHL game," he said, adding the two would look at game film after practice and before games. "I just think the little tools and skills he showed me in just the month made me a better player. I think he's going to be awesome for us. I can't wait to learn from him."