New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has signed forward Dwight Helminen to a professional contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Helminen, 21, skated in 41 games for the University of Michigan Wolverines of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) last season, registering 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points, along with four penalty minutes. He led the Wolverines with two shorthanded tallies, ranked second with 17 goals and ranked fifth on the team with 28 points. Helminen was tabbed as the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week on November 17 following a three-point series against Ohio State on November 14 and 15. On January 10, he tallied a career-high four goals on four shots in Michigan's 7-1 victory over Ohio State. Helminen also garnered CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors on February 16, after posting three goals and one assist versus Miami (Ohio) on February 13 and 14, including two goals and the game-winning tally on February 14. At the conclusion of the season, the third-year forward was honored as the CCHA's Best Defensive Forward.
"Dwight is an exciting young prospect that we were fortunate to add to the organization at the end of last season," stated Sather. "He has terrifc speed, which he uses to his advantage on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck and on special teams. We feel he is ready to take the next step in his hockey career."
The 6-0, 200-pounder has appeared in 120 career contests with the University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA), collecting 44 goals and 35 assists for 79 points, along with 48 penalty minutes. During the 2002-03 regular season, Helminen registered 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points. He finished the season tied for the third on the team with 33 points, posting career-bests in all scoring categories. In addition, Helminen was named recipient of the 2003 Howard Colby Award as the player who exhibited the best sportsmanship. In 2003 post-season play, he tied for the team lead in post-season scoring with six goals and one assist for seven points, leading to his selection to the CCHA Super Six All-Tournament team. Internationally, Helminen has represented the United States at the 2002 and 2003 IIHF World Junior Championships.
The native of Hancock, Michigan was originally Edmonton's eighth round selection, 244th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Rangers, along with a second round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (Dane Byers) and goaltender Stephen Valiquette, from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for center Petr Nedved and goaltender Jussi Markkanen on March 3, 2004.