Growing up in Stamford, Conn., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute junior forward Ryan Haggerty was a big fan of the New York Rangers. Now, he’s a part of that organization.
Haggerty signed a free-agent contract with the Rangers, the team announced Wednesday.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Haggerty led the Engineers in scoring with 28 goals and 15 assists in 35 games. RPI’s season ended Sunday when it was eliminated by Dartmouth in Game 3 of the ECAC Hockey tournament first-round series.
Haggerty, 21, will join the Rangers later this week. Because the deal was signed for this season and after the NHL trade deadline, he can’t be assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.
The Chicago Blackhawks were also interested in Haggerty. But the lure of playing for the team he rooted for made the decision easy for Haggerty.
“The Rangers were my idols of [Mark] Messier and [Adam] Graves, Theo Fleury and when [Jaromir] Jagr was here,” Haggerty said. “It’s incredible. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Rangers. Growing and watching them, it’s pretty surreal [to sign with them]. It’s hard to even imagine that dreams come true, but I’m looking forward to the future, too.”
After collecting 19 goals and 22 assists in his first two years, Haggerty blossomed this year. He led ECACH in goals with 14.
Haggerty, who joined RPI from the U.S. National Development Team, scored at least one goal in 19 games, and had eight multiple-goal games. He started the season with seven goals in his first four games, and closed it on another streak with four goals in the three playoff games against the Big Green.
“It was a good situation to take advantage of and what I did this year in college hockey,” Haggerty said. “It impacted with a lot of [NHL] teams. It was time to take the next step of my career. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t thank enough everyone at RPI and the coaches and everyone I played with there.”
RPI coach Seth Appert is pleased for Haggerty.
“I’m very proud of Ryan for how much he’s improved in his three years,” Appert said. “It’s what you strive for in your players. But he really made incredible improvements over his three years because he came to the rink every day to try and get better and not just to get through practice or see how practice was going to go. He worked on his game. He put a lot of time into his game. He worked very hard over the summer.
“He played for the most heavily scouted program in the world. No program is more scouted heavily than the U.S. program. He was undrafted. It’s a real credit to his work ethic of how much he’s improved in the last three years.”