Yesterday, the Rangers signed Union College defenseman Mat Bodie. At first glance, I really like the signing. Well, let me clarify. I like the idea of the signing. After all, Bodie was a standout on the best squad in college hockey this season and the Rangers organizationally have woefully few puck moving defensemen. Plus (and I will keep beating this drum) the Rangers really need to be creative in acquiring young, affordable talent considering their lack of past and future draft picks. To help shed some light on Bodie, I asked Ryan Fay of the Union Hockey Blog for his two cents:
Mat Bodie is a great player. He served as Union’s captain the past two seasons and his leadership ability is second to none. He was an impact player at Union from day one. He has been one of the best offensive defensemen in college hockey the past few years, but his defensive abilities shouldn’t be overlooked. His biggest weakness is probably his size; he’s 6-foot, 165 pounds. I suspect Bodie will probably start next season in the AHL, but he has the potential to play in the NHL down the road.
Ryan calls attention to Bodie’s size as his main weakness, which is totally reasonable. Though we have seen slight of frame defensemen succeed in the NHL over the past few years; Erik Karlsson and Torey Krug immediately come to mind. It’s not to say Bodie is comparable to Karlsson (duh), but if a coach can properly utilize a smaller, offensive defenseman, today’s speed game is more conducive to undersized blue liners than in year’s past.
So about Krug. How does he compare to Bodie? It’s a natural comparison as they are both smallish, puck moving defensemen who were college free agents. Let’s take a peak at their college stats:
So Bodie developed much more slowly than Krug. At age 21, Krug had signed with the Boston Bruins, whereas Bodie was just joining the college ranks as a freshman. Their points per game pace from their freshman through junior years (the year Krug left Michigan State) are nearly the inverse of one another annually, but on a whole similar.
Bodie had a monster senior year at Union and was nearly a point per game player, one can likely assume Krug would have had a similarly huge year had he stayed in the college ranks. Their stats are similar as a whole, but they’re not a one for one comparison due to their age. One would hope that Bodie is more polished defensively than Krug was when he left for the Bruins. Considering his age and the extra year in college to refine his game. Hopefully, Bodie shows that the comparison is justified with his play next season.
In Bodie’s press conference at Union after he signed with the Rangers, he mentions that Jeff Gorton was interested in him because the organization does not have anyone who plays his style of game. Bodie mentions that he had multiple offers and he essentially chose New York because he felt he had an opportunity with the club as an offensive defenseman.
Gorton had the following to say about Bodie and his signing with the Rangers:
“We have been tracking his development for four years,” explained Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a real character kid who we think adds a hard to find element to our defensive depth going forward. Being captain of a championship team just adds to what he is as a player.”
“We really like his skating and his ability to manufacture offense,” Gorton said of Bodie, who captained Union each of the past two seasons. “He is very poised with the puck. He’s a guy we have liked for some time because of his skill and character.”