Blackburn had been the Rangers' top goaltending prospect but he
missed all of last season due to a left shoulder injury sustained
during an offseason training camp. He underwent nerve exploration
surgery in March and has been on a rehabilitation program since.
The 21-year-old Blackburn is scheduled to attend a camp run by
new Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire this weekend.
Blackburn, who was a restricted free agent, is 20-32-4 with a
3.22 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage in 63 NHL
games, all with the Rangers. Two seasons ago, Blackburn saw the
bulk of the goaltending duties after Mike Richter's career-ending
He played 18 straight games during his rookie season but then
saw his playing time diminished greatly once Mike Dunham was
acquired from Nashville.
Blackburn went 7-8-2 during his streak that made him one of only
four teenage goalies to play as many as 15 straight games in NHL
history. Blackburn, chosen by the Rangers with the 10th overall
pick in the 2001 draft, was the third-youngest player to ever win a
game. He was chosen to the NHL All-Rookie team after earning 12
victories in 31 games.
The Rangers also signed 19-year-old defenseman David Liffiton on
Liffiton, acquired from Colorado just before the trade deadline
in March, played in 44 games last season with Plymouth of the
Ontario Hockey League and had two goals and nine assists.
"David is one of our organization's top defensive prospects
with a nice combination of size and strength," general manager
Glen Sather said. "He plays a physical game and handles himself
with confidence in all game situations."
Liffiton was chosen by the Avalanche with the 63rd pick in the
Poapst had two goals, four points and 26 penalty minutes in 53
games with the Blackhawks last season.
Robidas was acquired by the Blackhawks in 2003 from the Dallas
Stars. He had two goals, 12 points and 33 penalty minutes in 45
games for Chicago last season.
Morgan spent time last season with Nashville, Calgary and two
minor-league teams before the Blackhawks acquired him from the
Flames. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1995.
Bourque led Wisconsin in goals, assists and points last season.
Terms of the contracts were not released.
Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers signed defenseman Braydon Coburn, the team's first-round draft pick in 2003.
The 19-year-old Coburn, the eighth overall pick, was named to
the 2003-04 WHL Western Conference All-Star team. He ranked second
among Portland's defensemen with 10 goals and 20 assists in 55
games last season.
"Braydon is a high character individual who has proven that he
is ready for the opportunity to compete at the NHL level," general
manager Don Waddell said. "He is a solid all-around
defenseman with a great deal of ability and potential. His
continued development will help strengthen our vastly improved core
The Thrashers have made defense their offseason priority. The
team acquired 31-year-old defenseman Niclas Havelid in a trade with
Anaheim on draft day, and added defenseman Jaroslav Modry as a free
agent earlier this month.
The 24-year-old Williams was acquired from Philadelphia on Jan.
20 for defenseman Danny Markov.
He finished his fourth NHL season with 11 goals and 33 assists
in 79 games for the Hurricanes and Flyers, setting career marks in
games played, assists, points and penalty minutes with 64.
After the season, he played in all nine games of the World
Championships for Canada, which won the gold medal.
Williams was a first-round pick for the Flyers in the 2000
draft. In 226 career games, he has 43 goals, 72 assists and 108
Financial terms were not disclosed for Wiilliams, who made $440,000 last season and recorded six goals and seven assists in 49 games.
Signed as a free agent in 2000, the 23-year-old Williams made his NHL debut in 2000-01, collecting three assists in five games with the Red Wings. He has 17 goals and 15 assists in 95 career contests.