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Neal Pionk Signs with New York Rangers

neal pionk Daniel Mick

Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Neal Pionk has officially signed with the New York Rangers, ending his collegiate eligibility.

Pionk was one of the top free agents available in the NCAA this past season. After Minnesota Duluth’s run to the national title game, Pionk announced that he would be turning pro this summer. He fielded multiple offers with Chicago and Los Angeles reportedly making his cut as finalists along with the Rangers.

We ranked Pionk as the 38th-best NHL prospect in the NCAA this past season, writing:

In his sophomore season, the Duluth-area native has developed into the top defenseman for the Bulldogs, who have spent much of the season as one of the top teams in the country.

Pionk is a very good two-way defenseman thanks to his excellent skating ability and agility. He moves the puck up the ice reliably thanks to an ability to spin his way out of traffic and is an excellent outlet passer. His quickness also gives him the confidence to hold the line in the offensive zone, rather than giving up ice to give himself more cushion defensively.

He’s just an okay defender one-on-one against the rush, but has an above average amount of toughness and physicality for a guy that will classify as a smaller defenseman at the next level.

Terms of Pionk’s contract were not disclosed. His contract will begin with the 2017-2018 season.