New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather
announced today that the club has signed unrestricted free agent forward Ville Nieminen.
"Ville is a hard working player who competes every shift," stated Sather. "He is difficult to play against and relentless when it comes to pressuring the puck and frustrating the opposition. We're excited to add his grit and determination to our lineup."
Nieminen, 28, appeared in 26 games with Tappara Tempere in the SM - Liiga (Finland) last season, registering 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points, along with 32 penalty minutes. His 14 goals and 27 points ranked third on the team, while his point-per-game ratio led the club. In eight post-season contests, Nieminen led his club in scoring, collecting two goals and four assists for six points. The Tampere, Finland native also represented Finland at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
A veteran of five NHL seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames, Nieminen has skated in 271 career NHL games, registering 39 goals and 52 assists for 91 points, along with 227 penalty minutes. In 2003-04, he combined to play in 79 games with Chicago and Calgary, totaling five goals and 16 assists for 21 points, along with 58 penalty minutes. On February 24, 2004, he was traded to the Calgary Flames from Chicago in exchange for Jason Morgan and a conditional draft pick.
The 6-0, 210-pounder has also appeared in 47 career playoff contests with Colorado and Calgary, registering eight goals and ten assists for 18 points, along with 75 penalty minutes. In addition, Nieminen was a key member of Calgary's 2003-04 Western Conference championship team, appearing in 24 post-season contests, collecting four goals and four assists. Along with being a member of Team Finland at the 2004 World Cup, he represented his country at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nieminen was originally Colorado's fourth choice, 78th overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Rick Berry, from Colorado in exchange for Darius Kasparaitis on March 19, 2002. On July 29, 2003, the Chicago Blackhawks signed him as a free agent. Chicago then dealt him to the Calgary Flames on February 24, 2004, in exchange for Jason Morgan and a conditional draft pick.