Summertime and the living is easy…unless, of course, you’re waiting impatiently for the start of the hockey season. Maybe you’ve got a countdown to the first game. Maybe you’re feverishly refreshing every hockey news site in the hopes that something new and exciting will happen with your favorite team. Maybe you’re abusing the #IsItOctoberYet hashtag. Maybe it’s all of the above.
So Rangers fans, here’s a quick roundup of what’s been going on in New York these past few weeks:
While we’ve all been dreaming of the rink, the Rangers have been making some big changes to their roster. There’s been a flurry of signings and contract negotiations since the opening days of the 2014 “NHL Free Agent Frenzy.”
- Dan Boyle, 38, will join the Rangers on the blue line, replacing Anton Stralman as a right-handed shooting defenseman and coming in as a key player for New York power plays. Boyle had 36 points in 75 games for the San Jose Sharks this past season and has a career 561 points (144 goals) in 954 NHL games. He has recorded 50+ points on six different occasions, and he has led his team’s defensemen in scoring for nine of his fifteen seasons. Boyle is also a strong postseason player, tallying 70 points in 107 playoff games, and he won a Stanley Cup title with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
- Chris Bourque, brother of Rangers prospect Ryan Bourque and son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, will also come to New York. Bourque, 28, is a forward who split the 2013-14 season between Ak Bars Kazan (KHL) and EHC Biel (NLA) in Switzerland. He had 2 goals in 11 games for Ak Bars Kazan, and he tallied 6 goals and 7 assists in 21 regular season games for EHC Biel to go along with 4 goals and 4 assists in 12 postseason games. Bourque has a career 2 goals and 6 assists in the NHL and has spent time playing with Washington, Pittsburgh, and Boston. In his AHL years, he put up a total of 142 goals and 291 assists in 437 games, and won three Calder Cup championships in addition to being named AHL Playoffs MVP in 2010.
- Tanner Glass, another winger, will join the Rangers for some third and fourth-line minutes as well as on the penalty kill. Glass, 30, had 4 goals and 9 assists in 67 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins this past season and has 54 total points in his NHL career. He is known for being aggressive on the forecheck and contributing a gritty, physical element to his team’s roster; this past season, Glass led his team in hits and was second in Penguins forwards for blocked shots. Glass has also played for Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault in seasons past, when Vigneault coached the Vancouver Canucks in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
- Chris Mueller, 28, will also play on the Rangers’ front line this coming season. Mueller split the 2013-14 season between the Dallas Stars and their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. He played in 9 regular season games for Dallas as well as 4 postseason games, and he won 43 of the 80 faceoffs he took in those 13 games. Mueller has a career 2 goals and 6 assists in 46 games on NHL ice and has also spent time with the Nashville Predators. In the AHL, he has tallied 117 goals and 129 assists over 383 games, and he has registered 20+ goals and 50+ points three times in his AHL career. He won the Calder Cup with past season with Texas.
- Veteran center Matthew Lombardi comes to New York after spending last season overseas with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League. Lombardi, 32, led the Swiss League in scoring last season with 50 points (20 goals and 30 assists) in 46 games. He has also played a career 536 NHL games for the Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks. Lombardi is known for his speed and special teams presence (29 of his career 101 NHL goals have come on special teams), and he will help fill a hole on the Rangers penalty kill.
- Mike Kostka, 28, played for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2013-14 season and will now join the Rangers on the blue line. Kostka put up 4 goals and 7 assists in 28 games this past season to go along with a +10 rating. He also had 2 assists and a +2 rating in 3 postseason games for the Lightning while leading the team in plus/minus rating and tied for the lead in assists. Kostka has a career 4 goals and 15 assists in 63 career NHL games with Toronto, Chicago, and Tampa Bay, and he registered 37 goals and 147 assists in 343 AHL games while boasting a +36 rating.
- Goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, 28, has also agreed to terms with the Rangers for this coming season. Desjardins spent this past season with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) and posted a 9-18-4 record with a 2.81 GAA, a .900 SV%, and two shutouts. He has a total 104-80-18 record in his AHL career and has also played 6 NHL games for Tampa Bay with a record of 2-4. Despite his record, Desjardins has allowed 2 or fewer goals in 4 of his 6 career NHL games.
- Center Dominic Moore has been re-signed and will stay with the New York Rangers for at least this coming season. Moore, 33, won the 2014 Masterton trophy for sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication to hockey after returning to the NHL after an 18-month leave to care for and mourn his wife, Katie. He had 6 goals and 12 assists in 73 games for the Rangers this past season, and he added an additional 3 goals and 5 assists in 25 playoff games. Moore’s game-winning goal in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in twenty years. He has a total 203 points in 603 NHL games, and his reliable faceoff percentage has led him to become an integral part of the New York Rangers roster. Moore was also up for an ESPY this year, as a nominee for Best Comeback Athlete.
Saying Goodbye to New York:
- C Brad Richards has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.
- D Anton Stralman has signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- C Brian Boyle has signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- LW Benoit Pouliot has signed with the Edmonton Oilers.
- RW Derek Dorsett has signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
- G Henrik Lundqvist was nominated for an ESPY (Best NHL Player) and for two Kids’ Choice Sports Awards (Best Save; King of Swag).
- LW Carl Hagelin has become a Steiner Sports athlete.
- Interestingly enough, Dan Boyle wears the same number as Brian Boyle (22). So for those of you with a Boyle shirt from seasons past…here’s a bit of serendipity.
And for those of you counting…69 days until the first preseason game (vs. the New Jersey Devils!)