New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced the club's second free agent signing in as many days, agreeing to terms with Calgary Hitmen defenseman Matt Kinch today. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The Rangers agreed to terms with Seattle Thunderbirds left wing Barrett Heisten yesterday.
Kinch, 21, ranked first in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in scoring among defensemen this past season, tallying 18 goals and 66 assists for 84 points in 70 matches, along with 52 penalty minutes with the Calgary Hitmen. He also ranked first on the team and tied for fourth in the WHL with 66 assists. He placed second in the voting for Defenseman of the Year.
Kinch also captured the Brad Hornung Trophy as the league's most sportsmanlike player, an award he captured in 1998-1999 as well. Kinch was selected as the WHL's Eastern Conference Puckmaster's Defenseman of the Month for November 2000, notching four goals and 15 assists for 19 points during the span, including a shorthanded goal.
The 5-11, 185-pounder was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres but failed to reach a contract agreement with the club. The Red Deer, Alberta native, a teammate of Rangers propect Pavel Bendl for the past three seasons, has won several other honors over his five seasons with Calgary. He was selected as a First Team Eastern Conference All-Star for the 1998-1999 season and a Second Team All-Star in 1999-2000. ________________________________________
NOTES: * Lists Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch as his hockey role model and wore #2 in Calgary.
* Voted Calgary's Defenseman of the Year and Player of the Year in 2000-01.
* Registered a plus-43 rating in 2000-01, capturing Calgary's Plus/ Minus Award. ________________________________________
NHL SCOUTING REPORT ON MATT KINCH: Very good all-round skater with speed and acceleration ... Very good puckhandler and passer ... Excellent pointman on the powerplay ... Very creative and reads ice very well ... Shows good leadership and is a very disciplined player.