Higgins, a restricted free agent the Rangers acquired last week in the trade that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal, has signed a new contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A native of Smithtown, N.Y., Higgins said during his June 30 conference call with local reporters that the trade surprised him, but he was thrilled to be going to New York.
"I heard my name thrown around (in trade rumors) ever since I played in Montreal, but you never think it's actually going to happen," Higgins said. "When it happened I was absolutely thrilled. If there was one place I would want to play outside of Montreal, it's New York. Most of my family lives in the city. This is a dream come true for me."
The Rangers' offseason hardly is finished. GM Glen Sather still has plenty of work to do to build the Rangers' depth, especially up front.
The only forwards the Rangers currently have under contract are Higgins, Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Aaron Voros, Donald Brashear and Tyler Arnason, who was signed to a two-way contract. Rookie Artem Anisimov also is signed and appears to be in the team's immediate plans.
Ryan Callahan, Nikolai Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky, Lauri Korpikoski and Brian Boyle all are unsigned restricted free agents. Callahan and Zherdev filed for salary arbitration prior to Sunday's 5 p.m. ET deadline.
There's also a chance the Rangers still will acquire a forward on the open market or through a trade. They have been linked to rumors regarding Saku Koivu, but those have been unfounded so far. Former Ranger Alexei Kovalev also is available as Montreal GM Bob Gainey said Monday he doesn't fit into the Canadiens' future plans.
Higgins put up a career-high 52 points in 82 games two seasons ago, but injuries limited him to just 23 points in 57 games this past season.
"He's been a goal scorer," Sather said of Higgins, who scored at least 20 goals in his first three seasons before scoring just 12 in 2008-09. "Last year he was hurt three times so he didn't have the year he expected. We think he's a terrific player and we're very happy to get him. He's also from the New York area and he's excited to be coming home. He's only 26 years old, a former first-round pick. We think he's a good player and that's why we made the deal."
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