What was expected to be an eventful first day of free agency for the New York Rangers saw several new faces make their way to the Big Apple.
The Rangers started the day by signing defenseman Dan Boyle to a contract that is reportedly for two years and worth $9 million, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. Signing the veteran was just the beginning of a day when New York re-signed forward Dominic Moore and signed forwards Tanner Glass and Chris Mueller, defensemen Michael Kostka, Matt Hunwick and Steven Kampfer, and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
Boyle scored 12 goals and 36 points in 75 games with the Sharks last season, and in 954 games with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Sharks he has 144 goals and 561 points. He won a gold medal with Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the Stanley Cup in 2004 as a member of the Lightning.
"Dan is an experienced player. He's been an elite player for a long time," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's going to help us on the power play, he's been able to log important minutes on a pretty good team in the last couple of years. We're really happy to have him"
The Rangers hope adding Boyle can offset the departure of defenseman Anton Stralman, who left New York to sign a five-year contract worth $22.5 million with the Tampa Bay Lightning. New York also lost a key contributor early in the day when forward Benoit Pouliot, who enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2013-14, signed a five-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
With the departure of Pouliot and Stralman, it was clear the Rangers would have some holes to fill on their roster.
"It's a salary-cap world. We're trying to fit guys in that were good players for us. We wanted to sign them," Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said. "Once we started to get wind of what their numbers would be and their terms would be, it just became difficult."
The Rangers were able to bring back Moore, who was an important two-way forward after signing a one-year contract and scored the series-clinching goal against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final that sent New York to the Stanley Cup Final.
Moore, 33, returned after a one-year sabbatical from hockey and had 18 points in 73 regular-season games and three goals and eight points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to the game.
Financial terms of the contracts were not released, but Newsday reported Moore signed a two-year, $3 million contract. Glass agreed to a three-year, $4.35 million contract, according to the Post.
Glass, 30, had 13 points in 67 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and did not have a point in eight playoff games. In seven seasons with the Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets and Penguins, Glass has 18 goals, 54 points and 458 penalty minutes in 377 games.
"Every year you have to build your team and you have to build the identity of your team. We're in the process of doing that," Vigneault said. "[Moore] wanted to come back here, that was really important for us. Tanner Glass wanted to come here, there's no doubt that Dan Boyle wanted to come here. Now we're just trying to sort out the pieces in this cap world."
Those pieces could include Kostka, Mueller, Hunwick and Desjardins, whose signings were announced in quick succession Tuesday.
Kostka, 28, signed a one-year contract after scoring four goals and 11 points in 28 games with the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning last season. He had two assists in three playoff games with the Lightning. In parts of two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Lightning, Kostka has four goals and 19 points in 63 games.
"Kostka is an offensive guy, can move the puck, can skate, he has some size. We think he's going to be a good depth player for us," Gorton said. "He's won at the American League level. We like his character, we like the kind of player he is. We think he gives us that added depth going forward."
Mueller, 28, played in nine regular-season games and four playoff games with the Dallas Stars in 2013-14. He spent most of the season with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Texas Stars, where he had 25 goals and 57 points. He had 11 points in 19 AHL playoff games to help Texas win the Calder Cup.
Terms of Hunwick's contract were not disclosed, although multiple sources reported it at one year for $600,000. A seventh-round pick (No. 224) of the Boston Bruins, Hunwick has spent the past three seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He played one game with Colorado last season, spending much of the year with their AHL affiliate in Lake Erie. In 292 games, he has 16 goals, 67 points and 116 penalty minutes.
"Matt can skate, he's a character guy," Gorton said. "He's got a nice little blend of offense and defense. So we thought he'd be a good fit for us."
Desjardins, 28, is expected to provide organizational depth at the goaltending position. Signed by the Montreal Canadiens as an undrafted free agent in 2008, he spent most of last season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. He made one appearance for the Lightning last season, allowing two goals on 13 shots in 18 minutes in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In six NHL games, he has a 2-4-0 record with a 2.41 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Even with eight players added in one day, the Rangers wouldn't rule out the possibility of acquiring others. But it appears their primary concern moving forward is signing their restricted free agents, including forwards Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.
"They're on our mind. We've been talking to them since our season ended," Gorton said. "We're working on it, we're trying to get them done, but we're always looking for someone that can help us, that's out there in the free-agent market or via trade. We're continually looking to help the team, to find guys who can play the way we want to play."
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