Neal Pionk is an undrafted defenseman out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was signed after his sophomore season of college by the New York Rangers. At the beginning of the season, Pionk spent 48 games in the AHL with the Rangers affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack. After the injury bug hit the Rangers, they were in need of Pionk’s services. Pionk has delivered and played exceptionally well. Since joining the Rangers on February 9th, he has lead all Rangers defenseman in 5 on 5 points with 9 (1 goal, 8 assists). This would earn Neal a spot on the power play and increase his TOI to over the 20 minute mark per game. The knock on Pionk, however, is his size. Listed at 6 foot, he is not the biggest defenseman. What he lacks in size, he makes up in hockey sense. Pionk is a smooth skater, who can skate his way out of a jam, is solid at both ends of the ice and looks like a veteran when handling the puck. So how good has Pionk been? In 21 games this season, he already has a goal and 13 assists to go along with 37 shots on goal. His +/- (-1) and hits (34) aren’t going to light your league on fire, but if you’re looking for offense, he should deliver. Currently, he is riding a 7 game point streak and has been on fire.
With the Rangers in rebuild mode, Pionk should continue to be a key piece in this process. If you are a Dynasty Leaguer looking to add a young defenseman, you might want to look at Neal Pionk before someone else in your league does.
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