It’s not Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Alexander Semin, Jaromir Jagr or any of the other sexy names available in this unusually slow free agent period, but on Tuesday night, the Rangers made some actual news with a signing as they agreed to terms with former Phoenix Coyotes winger Taylor Pyatt on a two year deal worth $3.1 million total – $1.55 million per year.
Pyatt joins Arron Asham as the Rangers’ free agent signings from outside their own team, as they also re-signed defenseman Stu Bickel and winger Kris Newbury. Former Islander forward Michael Haley was also signed since the start of the unrestricted free agent period on Sunday, but he likely will spend most, if not all, of the season in Connecticut.
Pyatt, 31, comes off a season where he scored nine goals and 10 assists in 73 games while mostly playing on Phoenix’s third line, and he will likely play on that same line for the Rangers, perhaps replacing winger Ruslan Fedotenko, who put up similar numbers to Pyatt (Fedotenko had nine goals and 11 assists in 73 games while Pyatt had nine goals and 10 assists in 73 games). Pyatt also plays a relatively similar game to Fedotenko with a little bit more of a physical aspect to his style of play.
Pyatt’s career began as an eighth overall pick by the New York Islanders in 1999. He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2001 Draft when the Islanders acquired center Michael Peca, but he never seemed to put it together during his time in Buffalo as he struggled to stay healthy and put up average numbers when he was actually in the lineup.
Then in 2006, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks and he put up a career-high 37 points playing on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin in 2007. He was taken off that line the following season, but he still put up 37 points in 79 games before settling into more of a depth role the following year.
In 2009, he signed with Phoenix and it was there that his career would find him in his current 3rd/4th line role as he put up 23, 31 and 19 points respectively in the last three seasons for the Coyotes while proving to be a mainstay for the depth of a team that made the playoffs in each of those three seasons – culminating in this past year’s trip to the Western Conference Finals.
Pyatt may not be the signing that Rangers fans have waited for, but he’ll likely prove to be an important cog in the forward depth of a team that will definitely need to see their offense take another step forward in 2013.