The Rangers' top six defensemen are finally in the fold. John Moore, a restricted free agent who played primarily on the third pair last season, has agreed to a one-year contract worth $850,000, people familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday. An announcement is expected Thursday.
Moore, 23, had said Friday after an informal skate with teammates at the MSG Training Center that talks had picked up and that he believed a deal was close. The Rangers had presented him with a qualifying offer of $850,000 and Moore, without arbitration rights, did not have much leverage. He said he understood that the front office had numerous free agents to re-sign and had been patient.
A first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Moore, who was acquired by the Rangers in April 2013 in the trade that sent Marian Gaborik to the Columbus, had four goals and 11 assists in 74 games last season and two assists in the playoffs.
The deal comes a week before training camp opens, and may not be the last signing. Ryan Malone, 34, an unrestricted free-agent forward who was bought out by Tampa, has been skating with the Rangers at the informal workouts, and is discussing a contract with president and general manager Glen Sather. Malone would have to accept a deal worth less than a third of his $2.5-million buyout from the Lightning.
The Blueshirts are coming very close to the $69-million salary cap, although they have wiggle room until rosters are locked in and cap-compliant before the first game in October. Then, if necessary, management could choose to start the season with 21 rather than 22 players. Five of the nine games in October are at home and one in New Jersey, which would allow a quick call-up from the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack.