Considering the premium on quality defensemen and the dearth of those likely to be available at the April 3 trading deadline, this should come as a surprise to no one:
The Rangers are one of the many teams interested in signing college free agent defenseman Andrej Sustr, who plans to leave the University of Nebraska-Omaha and field NHL offers, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.
Upwards of 25 teams have expressed interest in the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Sustr, whose college team was eliminated from the WCHA tournament this past weekend, and he may be narrowing the field soon.
A source told ESPNNewYork.com that it is possible he could arrive at a decision on where to sign by the end of this week.
The Blueshirts do have a connection with Sustr, who finished his junior season with nine goals and 16 assists in 39 games for UNO. The 22-year-old Czech native participated in the Rangers' development camp in 2011, although he has also skated in development camps for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning as well.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times recently that the Bolts are “interested” in Sustr, although he will be one of several executives around the league likely courting the young blueliner.
The Rangers have a particular need to bolster their back end -- they are seeking a right-handed defenseman who can play in their top four as the deadline approaches -- and will be in on Sustr, as well as Danny Dekeyser should the Western Michigan University defenseman decide to turn pro.
Dekeyser headlines a small class of coveted college free agents, although it is believed that the Detroit Red Wings have the inside track on the 6-3, 200-pound defenseman. The Clay Township, Mich., native played youth hockey with Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill’s son, Trevor. Dekeyser also played under Jeff Blashill at WMU as a freshman. Blashill is now the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate.
Dekeyser has two goals and 13 assists in 35 games for the Broncos, who lost to the University of Michigan this past weekend in the quarterfinals of the CCHA playoffs.
Dekeyser’s season is not necessarily over yet, however. The Broncos have to wait until Sunday before finding out whether they will receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.
If WMU fails to earn a spot in the tourney, Dekeyser will weigh his options on what to do next.