The New York Rangers have watched several key players who had an instrumental role in their run to the Stanley Cup finals this spring walk away as that bevvy of unrestricted free agents tested the open market, but they still managed to reel in one of the big fish in the first hour of Tuesday’s action-packed frenzy.
The Blueshirts landed one of the most coveted UFAs on the market, signing veteran defenseman Dan Boyle to a two-year deal that a source confirmed is worth $9 million and includes a no-move clause.
With Stralman's anticipated departure -- the Rangers could not get a deal done to keep the steady Swede from hitting the open market -- Boyle’s addition to the Rangers’ D becomes even more important.
San Jose Sharks
Though Boyle is on the back nine of his career at age 37, he is still respected as an excellent puck-moving, smooth-skating defenseman.
His potential contributions on the power play should not be overlooked, with the Rangers actively seeking a bona fide power-play quarterback with a big right-handed shot. Boyle fills that role seamlessly and will replace Brad Richards on the point of the special teams’ first unit.
Richards was bought out by the Rangers last week.
Several teams were in the mix for Boyle, who narrowed it down to roughly five by Monday night. According to a source, the longtime Shark left money on the table to sign with the Rangers but felt that New York was the best fit in terms of giving him the chance to win now. Boyle thought he could be one of the missing pieces that could help boost the Rangers over the edge after they got so close to the ultimate prize this spring.
The Rangers clearly made landing Boyle a top priority, as they had to part ways with UFAs like Stralman, who greatly increased his value with a phenomenal playoff run; Brian Boyle, who also saw his stock rise this spring; and Benoit Pouliot, who signed a five-year, $20 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers almost as soon as the market opened.
Of their own class of unrestricted free agents, the Rangers re-signed 2014 Masterton Trophy winner Dominic Moore, who played a vital role on what turned out to be a supremely effective fourth line for the team this spring. They also added depth forwards Tanner Glass and Chris Mueller, signed defenseman Matt Hunwick and Stephen Kampfer and inked goaltender Cedric Desjardins to deals as well.
The Rangers, who tried to trade for Boyle at the deadline in 2013, finally addressed what has been a glaring need in recent years. They exercised prudence in letting some of their own free agents walk -- a vital decision because of some critical restricted free agents that remain unsigned -- and instead honed in on their prized target.
They’ll be a better team for it.