Ty Ronning signs with Minnesota Wild’s AHL farm team in Iowa

Former Giants sniper and son of fan favourite Cliff Ronning says he talked to the Canucks about a spot in Abbotsford but there wasn’t a fit

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Ty Ronning’s hockey career has inched him a little closer to home.

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The former Vancouver Giants scoring star and son of longtime Vancouver Canucks fan favourite Cliff Ronning is off to Des Moines, Iowa, this winter after signing a one-year deal on Thursday with the Iowa Wild, the American Hockey League farm club of the Minnesota Wild.

Des Moines is some 3,000 kilometres east. Ronning had been 5,000 kilometres away, playing in Connecticut for the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. 

Ronning, 24, became a free agent this summer when the Rangers didn’t tender him a qualifying offer on his contract. The right-shot winger  had spent four seasons in their system, including last year when he had 18 goals and 39 points in 69 regular season games with Hartford.

After parting ways with the Rangers, Ronning was keen on the possibility of playing for the Abbotsford Canucks. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Ronning says there were discussions with Vancouver but joining their AHL club but it wasn’t a fit.

“They said that they wanted to develop younger players and that was going to take away ice time from someone like me,” explained Ronning, who grew up in Burnaby.“We left it at that.”

Abbotsford and Iowa aren’t slated to play this AHL season. The AHL schedule was released Thursday and Central Division Iowa’s only games against the Canucks’ Pacific Division are versus the Colorado Eagles, San Diego Gulls and San Jose Barracuda. 

“There’s always the playoffs,” Ronning explained.

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He went on to say that Iowa general manager Mike Murray told him that the Wild had tried to trade for him in the past but couldn’t come up with a deal with Hartford.  Iowa brass expect him to be reliable in his own zone but he’s also been told he’s going to get a chance to be a point producer, according to Ronning.

“They want me to shoot the puck. They want me to be a guy who helps put the puck in the net,” Ronning explained. “They say that the like my tenacity and my competitive nature. They want to push for the playoffs. They haven’t made the playoffs in awhile. They have pushed to find some players they think can help them do that. 

“Minnesota plays fast and plays physical and has made a habit of calling up players from their farm team.

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“I feel like it’s a great opportunity and a great fit for me. They see my potential. I’m nothing but excited about going there.”

New York Rangers Right Wing Ty Ronning (59) skates during New York Rangers Prospect Development Camp on June 29, 2018 at the MSG Training Center in New York, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle)
New York Rangers Right Wing Ty Ronning (59) skates during New York Rangers Prospect Development Camp on June 29, 2018 at the MSG Training Center in New York, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle)

Among the players who could line up with Ronning with Iowa is forward Nic Petan, who signed a two-year, two-way contract with Minnesota. The 27-year-old Delta native split last season between Vancouver and Abbotsford

He had two assists in 18 games with Vancouver. He had 12 goals and 44 points in 32 games with Abbotsford.

Petan played in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. His Winterhawks knocked Ronning and the Giants out of the first round of the 2014 playoffs. 

Iowa also announced the signing Thursday of forward Tanner Kaspick, 24, who played against Ronning’s Giants with both the Brandon Wheat Kings and Victoria Royals.

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Kaspick and the Royals eliminated Ronning and the Giants from the first round of the 2018 playoffs. 

Iowa plays in the Wells Fargo Arena, which lists capacity for hockey at 15,181. Iowa finished No. 10 in the 31-team AHL in attendance last season, with an announced average of 5,435. This season is the 10th in Des Moines for the franchise, who had played previously in Texas under the  Houston Aeros banner. They’ve made the playoffs just once these past nine seasons.

Eight players were promoted from Iowa to Minnesota and made their NHL debuts last season.

Ronning was a 2016 seventh-round draft pick of the Rangers. He had a Giants’ team record 61 goals as a 20-year-old in 2017-18.

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