Hamstrung by cap space, the Rangers didn't land a legitimate center or a top-nine forward Tuesday to fill the gaps left by the exits of Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle. Instead, they waded into the free-agent pool by shoring up the defense and rebuilding the fourth line.
Former Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle agreed to a two-year, $9-million contract. Boyle, 37, will step into Anton Stralman's spot with Marc Staal on the second pair and quarterback the power play.
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On Tuesday, Stralman grabbed a five-year, $22.5-million offer from Tampa Bay, and a couple of hours later the Lightning gave Brian Boyle a three-year, $6.9- million deal. Pouliot received a five-year, $20-million contract from Edmonton.
Stralman and Pouliot have been off the Rangers' radar since last week. "We started to get wind of what their numbers and terms would be,'' assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said, "and going forward, it just became difficult.''
Gorton said Dan Boyle, 37, "turned down significantly more money and another year in other places.'' He has 144 goals and 561 points in 954 games.
"He's been an elite player for a long time,'' coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's been able to log important minutes on a pretty good team the last couple of years.''
Dominic Moore, 33, who won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy last month, signed a two-year deal worth $3 million to remain in New York. Right now, Vigneault said, Moore is slotted as the fourth-line center. But without Brian Boyle and Richards, who was bought out and signed a one-year, $2-million deal yesterday with Chicago, the Rangers are not sure of their down-the-middle lineup.
"J.T. Miller is a possibility,'' Vigneault said, "and so is [Oscar] Lindberg.''
The Rangers still could add a center. "We'll be finding a forward,'' Gorton said, either via a trade or free agency.
The Rangers have about $15 million in cap space to sign Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and John Moore, with some money remaining. Gorton said the team was not planning to use the 10-percent summer cap cushion, but left the door open.
Among the free-agent centers still available are David Legwand, Mikhail Grabovski and Steve Ott. Winger Dany Heatley also is unsigned.
Another player ticketed for the fourth line is Tanner Glass, 30, a rugged left wing who played for Vigneault in Vancouver. Glass signed a three-year deal averaging $1.35 million a season. He had four goals, nine assists and 90 penalty minutes for the Penguins last season.
"Our whole staff thought he'd bring an edge to our team that we need,'' Vigneault said. "He was on the penalty kill in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg. He's improved since I had him.''
Notes & quotes:The Rangers added Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick, either of whom could be a seventh defenseman . . . Center Chris Mueller, who was 25-32-57 with the AHL's Texas Stars, defenseman Steven Kampfer and goalie Cedric Desjardins also agreed to deals.
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