The Rangers have preserved depth on the left side of the blue line by extending Ben Harpur’s contract through the 2024-25 season for a no-risk AAV of $787,500 per.
This is a notable milestone for the 28-year-old, who was left without a job as an unsigned free agent until the Blueshirts originally signed him to a one-year deal worth the league minimum $750,000 on Oct. 27 after he had joined the AHL Wolf Pack on a tryout.
At 6-foot-6, Harpur is just the type of big-bodied defenseman favored by Blueshirts head coach Gerard Gallant. He has lent stability to the third pair as Braden Schneider’s partner for the past 18 games after the club had given auditions to Zac Jones and Libor Hajek.
A fourth-round (118th overall) selection of the Senators in the 2013 draft with 174 games of NHL experience, Harpur would provide an ideal fit as the club’s seventh or eighth defenseman. His contract would not count against the cap if he were in Hartford.
GM Chris Drury is believed to be seeking a more formidable defenseman via a deadline rental to pair with Schneider down the stretch and in the playoffs. Harpur, who has been on for nine goals for and eight against at five-on-five, rarely plays down the stretch of tight games.
For example, Harpur got two shifts over the final 16:33 of regulation in the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime defeat in Toronto on Wednesday. Schneider got one additional spin. The Blueshirts need a third pair the coach will send onto the ice even if the game is on the line.
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