New York Rangers breaking news: Morgan Barron signs

The New York Rangers top forward prospect has signed his Entry Level Contract

After the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined college sports, it was widely anticipated that Morgan Barron would forego his senior year at Cornell University and sign with the Rangers.  It happened today and the signing has broad ramifications for the Blueshirts future.

The 21-year old center has been courted by the Rangers for over a year and they tried to ink him to a contract this spring, but he still hoped to achieve his dream of winning the Frozen Four.   Those hopes were dashed this year by COVID-19 and when the Ivy League cancelled all fall sports, it was inevitable that he would sign.

His signing eliminates a huge risk for the Blueshirts. If he had played his senior year at Cornell, he could have waited until mid-August 2021 and become an Unrestricted Free Agent. Another factor was that his younger brother Justin, a defenseman, is eligible for the next Entry Level Draft and ti was possible that Morgan Barron could have tried to sign with the same team that drafts his brother.

Barron was picked 174th overall in the  sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He led Cornell, the top team in the nation, with 14 goals and 18 assists and he also added five power play goals.  For his season, he was named ECAC Player of the Year.

Barron was also a finalist for the 2020 Hobey Baker Award, won by Scott Perunovich of Minnesota-Duluth.   He made the All-ECAC Hockey First Team for the second straight year.  That makes him the first Cornell player to be so honored since Joe Nieuwendyk in 1986 and 1987.

Barron, the Cornell team captain, was fifth in the ECAC in goals and sixth in points and his plus/minus rating of +17 was one of the best in the conference.

The lefthanded shooter is big at 6’4″, 220 pounds and should be a contender to make the leap to the NHL next season.  He’s skilled in all areas  and is solid on draws.  He won 117 of 202 faceoffs this season for a 58% winning percentage.

Writers note: There was an error in his faceoff winning percentage in an earlier version of this story.  The 58% winning percentage is the correct number.

If Barron can make the Rangers next season, he will be following in the footsteps of Adam Fox who also gave up his senior year at Harvard to play in the NHL.   It’s believed that he signed a standard maximum Entry Level Contract for an annual salary of $925k.

The addition of Barron to the roster of Rangers prospects makes the center position even more interesting for the Blueshirts.   While Mika Zibanejad is the one sure thing at the pivot position, Barron will be joining a corps of centers that includes Ryan Strome, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson, Patrick Khodorenko, Patrick Newell, Gabriel Fontaine, Boo Nieves and Justin Richards.

The Rangers have to decide this summer if they want to try to ink Strome, an arbitration eligible restrict free agent, to a longterm deal so getting Barron under contract could affect that decision.  Even if Barron starts his career in Hartford, with Chytil and Howden on the roster along with some of the other young prospects, keeping Strome may not be as much of a priority.

No matter what, one of the NHL’s best pools of young players just got even better.

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