After a strong collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, forward Vinni Lettieri is looking to carry that success in the pro ranks with the Rangers organization.
The undrafted, 22-year-old center inked a deal with the Blueshirts in March after four seasons with the Gophers that included a strong senior campaign that saw Lettieri help lead his alma matter to a Big Ten Regular Season Championship.
Described as a three-zone player by Rangers Assistant Director of Player Personnel Steve Greeley, Lettieri set career-highs with 19 goals and 18 assists for 37 points in 38 games a season ago.
In a March interview, Lettieri said his overall game "matured" during his college years. He said he entered the school as an offensive-minded player, and while that's still true, he said he was able to balance out his game and became a good defensive-forward as well.
Lettieri credited his career-best 19 goals with him shooting the puck more, something he often passed on as a younger player.
"That was one thing that I made sure I did throughout the game, is get a couple shots a period," he said. "In the past, not that I didn't have the capability to do what I did this year, but I always thought pass first or I thought pull up and wait for the D to come and pass to them. This year, I had more of a mentality of when I get in the zone, I'm going to try and do it more myself. Put the puck at the net and see what happens."
Lettieri and Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei were teammates at Minnesota, and the blueliner said Lettieri has great potential to succeed in the Big Apple.
"He's a great kid," Skjei said of Lettieri. "He works really hard. He's got a ton of skill, a ton of talent to be a successful player in New York."
Lettieri registered an assist and 12 shots on goal in nine games with the Wolf Pack last season. Greeley said he was pleased with Lettieri's first few weeks as a professional, especially without the puck.
"Another guy that was successful early in his AHL career in terms of playing a 200-foot game," he said before calling Lettieri a "coach's dream."
"He's so reliable and so trustworthy," Greeley added. "His strength and speed were ready for the American League. I'm really excited to see him at development camp."