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Five-time All-Star Naslund joins Blueshirts

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

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New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent forward Markus Naslund.

Markus Naslund was the runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 2002-03 after scoring 48 goals and 104 points for Vancouver.
Naslund, 34, is a former Lester B. Pearson Award winner (2003) as the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by his peers, and Hart Memorial Trophy runner-up (2003) as league MVP. The five-time NHL All-Star (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004) has also been named to three NHL All-Star First Teams (2002, 2003 and 2004).

Naslund appeared in 82 games with the Vancouver Canucks this past season, registering 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points, along with 46 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the club in goals (25), power play goals (nine) and shots (237), and finished third on the team in points (55) and assists (30). He also posted 14 multiple-point games, including two three-point efforts.

"Initially, there were quite a few teams contacting me," Naslund said of his three days as an unrestricted free agent. "I gave him (my agent)  instructions early on that there was only a limited number of teams that I was interested in playing for, and the Rangers were on the top of that list. ... Right from noon on July 1, my eyes had been set on the Rangers."

By collecting 55 points last season, Naslund surpassed the 50-point mark for the 10th time in 14 NHL seasons, and reached the 20-goal plateau for the ninth consecutive season. In addition, Naslund notched the 11th hat trick of his career on November 21 at Minnesota. He reached 800 career points on December 27 vs. Calgary, and skated in his 1,000th career NHL game on January 17 at Detroit.

In 2006-07, Naslund finished second on Vancouver in goals (24) and shots (222), and tied for second in power-play goals (nine). He also ranked third on the team in assists (36), points (60) and game-winning goals (five). He posted 13 multiple-point games during the season, and reached the 60-point plateau for the eighth straight campaign.

From January 7, 2007 vs. Florida to February 6, 2007 at Edmonton, Naslund registered 16 points (five goals and 11 assists) in a 12-game span, including two five-game assist-streaks during the stretch. In the 2007 playoffs, he appeared in 12 contests for the Canucks, registering five points (four goals and one assist) and 16 penalty minutes. He notched a three-game goal-streak during the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

The 6-0, 195-pounder has skated in 1,035 career regular season contests with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks, registering 371 goals and 452 assists for 823 points, along with 679 penalty minutes. In 2002-03, he established career-highs in goals (48), assists (56), points (104), power-play goals (24), and game-winning goals (12).

Naslund, a five-time All-Star, has had six 30-goal seasons and three 40-goal seasons during his 15-year NHL career.
His 12 game-winning goals led all NHL skaters in 2002-03, while he finished second in the league in goals, points and power play goals to capture the Lester B. Pearson Award. In addition, Naslund has reached the 40-goal mark three-times in his career (2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03), and has tallied two, four-goal games.

In post-season play, Naslund has appeared in 45 career contests with the Canucks, registering 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points, along with 46 penalty minutes. He led Vancouver to the Western Conference Semi-Finals in 2002-03, finishing first on the team with career-highs in assists (nine) and points (14), and second in goals (five), also a career-high. His 14 points also tied for seventh among all NHL skaters in playoff scoring.

Internationally, Naslund represented Sweden at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, registering two goals and one assist for three points in four contests. In addition, he was a member of Team Sweden at the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2002 IIHF World Championships.

The Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native was originally Pittsburgh’s first round choice, 16th overall, in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

Asked about what it would mean to play for the Rangers next season, Naslund said he felt very good about the overall picture.

"This team has a chance to win the Cup," Naslund said of the Blueshirts. "I wanted to sign with a Cup contender. I think we've all seen how tight the race is when it comes to the playoffs. I believe that the Rangers are going in the right direction. I'd like to be a part of that, and I'd like to be part of a Stanley Cup champion for sure."
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