New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with restricted free agent goaltender Dan Blackburn. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Blackburn, 21, was sidelined for the entire 2003-04 season after suffering a left shoulder injury prior to the start of the Rangers 2003 training camp. He underwent nerve exploration surgery on the shoulder on March 31 and has been continuing his rehabilitation program under the guidance of the team's medical and training staff. He is scheduled to attend Rangers assistant and goaltending coach Benoit Allaire's goaltending camp, beginning July 31 in Montreal.
The 6-1, 191-pound goaltender has appeared in 63 career games for the Rangers, posting a 20-32-4 record, along with a 3.22 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. During the 2002-03 season, Blackburn posted an 8-16-4 record in 32 contests, along with a 3.17 goals against average and a .890 save percentage. He registered his first career shutout on November 7 vs. Calgary, becoming the youngest goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout (19 years, 171 days). Blackburn joined Harry Lumley, Allan Bester and Harvey Bennett as the only teenage goaltenders in NHL history to make more the 15 consecutive starts when he appeared in 18 straight contests from November 7 through December 14, 2002. The second-year netminder registered a 7-8-2 record over the stretch.
In his first professional season, Blackburn was selected to the 2001-02 NHL All-Rookie Team after recording a 12-16-0 mark in 31 appearances for the Rangers, along with a 3.28 goals against average. He made his professional debut on October 10 vs. Washington to become the fifth youngest NHL netminder to appear in a game and the second youngest in franchise history (John Vanbiesbrouck; 18 years, 93 days). Blackburn registered his first NHL victory on October 15 in Montreal, becoming the third youngest goaltender in NHL history and second youngest in franchise history to record a win (18 years, 148 days). He also participated in the Inaugural Topps/NHL YoungStars Game at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on February 2. In addition, Blackburn appeared in four contests with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL), posting a 2-1-1 mark, along with a 2.71 goals against average.
Prior to joining the professional ranks, Blackburn appeared in 101 career contests with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League (WHL), posting a 67-22-9 record, along with a 2.65 goals against average. After leading the WHL in wins (33), ranking second in save percentage (.907) and third in goals against average (2.77) in 2000-01, he was selected as the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Goaltender of the Year, as well as a finalist for the WHL Goaltender of the Year award and member of the WHL East First All-Star Team. During his rookie season of 1999-2000, Blackburn was named WHL Rookie of the Year as well as being selected to the CHL All-Rookie Team.
The Montreal, Quebec native was the Rangers first selection, 10th overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.