When the New York Rangers made the decision to keep Brad Richards around for at least the 2013-14 season, it all but guaranteed that the Rangers would not be writing out massive checks to unrestricted free agents. With about $14 million in cap space heading into July 5th, they need a good part of that to re-sign restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello and the recently acquired Justin Falk.
As teams around the League threw money at Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, Mike Ribeiro and Ryane Clowe, the Rangers sat on the sidelines. Given the some of the contracts handed out on the first day of free agency, that might not be a bad thing.
On Friday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that the Blueshirts were looking to bring back a face that should be familiar to Rangers fans – their third round pick from the 2000 entry draft, Dominic Moore. Brooks also reported that they had been looking to sign him last offseason, which he sat out as his wife battled and finally succumbed on January 7th to a rare form of liver cancer. Just over three hours into free agency, word got out that the Rangers had, in fact, signed Moore to a one-year, $1 million contract.
Moore played in a Rangers uniform for 87 games over the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons, notably as part of the checking “HMO” line with Ryan Hollweg and Jed Ortmeyer. After being traded to the Nashville Predators in 2006, he made stops in Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose.
Adding to the forward corps, the Rangers also inked Benoit Pouliot to a 1-year, $1.3 million contract. Pouliot was the fourth overall pick by the Minnesota Wild in the 2005 draft. He played in 34 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, in which he had 8 goals and 12 assists. An inconsistent player, he has the potential to add some much-needed tertiary scoring from the bottom six of the lineup.
Defensive depth was a major issue for the Rangers last year. They were able to weather the loss of Marc Staal, but when Anton Stralman was lost to injury in the playoffs, Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik were who they had to fall back on. In the last week, the Rangers added Falk and Danny Syvret via trades. Friday they signed free agent Aaron Johnson to a 1-year, $600,000.00 contract. Johnson played in 10 games for the Boston Bruins in 2013, picking up 10 penalty minutes and failing to register a point.
None of the Rangers’ moves on day one of free agency were not the Earth-shattering kind that skyrocket them to Stanley Cup favorites. They subtly address some of the problems the team faced last season without the kinds of terms that lead to buyer’s remorse.
About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927