The first day of NHL free agency was marked by proliferate spending and a blockbuster trade.
And when it was over, the defending Eastern Conference champion Rangers had been definitively changed from the group that reached the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re just trying to sort out the pieces in this cap world,” head coach Alain Vigneault said during a late afternoon conference call in which assistant general manager Jeff Gorton participated.
Whether or not the pieces fit remain to be seen.
The Rangers spent upward of $13.1 million to retain center Dominic Moore (two years, $3 million), and brought in Dan Boyle (two years, $4.5 million), Tanner Glass (three years, $4.35 million), Mike Kostka (one year, $650,000), Chris Mueller (terms undisclosed) and Matt Hunwick (one year, $600,000).
While Vigneault and Gorton stressed the importance of depth and versatility the other acquisitions provide, Boyle is the marquee signing. The soon-to-be 38-year-old has recorded 561 points (144 goals and 417 assists) in 954 games. A two-time All-Star, Boyle was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning with Martin St. Louis.
“Dan is an experienced player,” Vigneault said. “He’s going [to help us on the power play].”
Boyle will likely partner with Marc Staal on the second defensive pair, while giving the Rangers’ power play the heavy, accurate point shot it has lacked for years.
He will replace Anton Stralman, who signed a five-year deal worth $22.5 million with Tampa Bay. The Rangers also lost Benoit Pouliot, who signed a five-year, $20 million deal with Edmonton, and Brian Boyle, who agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract with the Lightning.
“It’s a salary cap world,” Gorton said. “We wanted to sign both [Pouliot and Stralman]. It just became difficult.”
Especially factoring in that restricted free agents Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, John Moore and Mats Zuccarello are all due raises. According to industry site capgeek.com, the Rangers have $14.6 million in available cap room.
“[The RFAs] are on our mind. We’re working on it,” Gorton said. “We’re trying to keep our RFAs. We’re trying to keep our UFAs. It’s a salary cap world.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.