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Ryan Malone's only Rangers goal: 'Make the team'

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone stretches

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone stretches before an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn. on Feb. 4, 2014. Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Veteran Ryan Malone, who signed a contract on Thursday, skated Friday wearing his new jersey -- No. 24 -- and said he had no issues with the first two-way deal of his career.

"It shows a lot to have him (team president and general manager Glen Sather) believe in me as a player and a person,'' said Malone, 34. "I can't be more grateful for the opportunity to get on the team . . . I have just one goal, which is to make the team; it's not going to be given to me . . . There's tremendous depth with young guys; it's going to be a battle.''

The two-way contract (worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 if he's in the AHL) ''kind of protects them (the Rangers) . . . I have no problem with it,'' said Malone, who was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession in April in Tampa and was bought out by the Lightning. Malone pleaded no contest to the DUI, and the drug charge was to be dismissed upon completion of the NHL/NHLPA's Behavioral Health program. He was reinstated a few days ago.

For Malone, who was a healthy scratch late last season, the contract represents some assurance. "It's just about the opportunity,'' he said, "having something there instead of a tryout, instead of (playing in) an exhibition game and something happens.''

Malone's decision to wear 24 -- former captain Ryan Callahan's digits -- has nothing to do with the right wing now in Tampa.

Did he just do some math given that his former No. 12, which was unavailable, being worn by Lee Stempniak? "Yeah it was a quick decision,'' he joked. "Now I can be twice the player and score 80 points.''

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who trained with Malone and other players in Edina, Minnesota, in July and August, said he believed that the former Penguin is "a guy who can really help us . . . he was really working hard. Just seeing him, his work ethic and his willingness, to want to prove to himself, most importantly, and others; there was a lot of motivation inside to get another opportunity somewhere. I just like the fact that he's been in the league for awhile, he's experienced, a big guy, very well-respected among the players and an easy guy to talk to. I'm very excited he was able to work something out here.''

Mac on the 'C'

McDonagh, considered the clubhouse favorite to be named captain, said he would welcome the chance to have the "C''. "I feel like I've progressed in as far as being a go-to-guy, a guy that teammates, most importantly, look up to me as a guy they can count on, someone who consistently brings a good effort, a good attitude, sees the positive in everything and is willing do whatever it takes to win; so the organization's going to decide, we've got a lot of great candidates . . . It's a big responsibility for sure, I mean, an Original Six team, and all the things, not just on the ice, but how you have to carry yourself when you're representing the organization. I feel like I'm mature enough, I've learned a lot from the leaders before me, we had some great leaders, guys who really set an example on and off the ice.''

Tavares, Stamkos and . . . Fast?

RW Jesper Fast arrived from Sweden for his first skate, and he also had a new number -- 91. He smiled when he was shown a handwritten sign through the glass from the spectator area that read "Stamkos'' . . . McDonagh said he liked two of the new NHL rules: That teams switch sides at the beginning of overtime and the larger trapezoid -- two feet wider on each side. "I think it's good,'' he said. "As a d-man, you'd like (the goalie) to stop the puck if it's a rim . . . and Hank's getting better at playing the puck, too.''

Prospects tourney

Rangers prospects open the Traverse City (Michigan) Tournament against Dallas Friday at 7 p.m. and face the Sabres Saturday at 6:30. The team's website will be tweeting and showing highlights. Some of the 23 players will attend training camp next week.

Ticket sales next week

Chase cardholders will have access to a special pre-sale beginning Tuesday at 2 p.m. There will also be a pre-sale for fans that follow the Rangers on Twitter (@NYRangers), like the team on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nyrangers), or are members of the Rangers Insider community, beginning Wednesday at Noon. Tickets will be limited to a maximum of four per game. Tickets go on sale to the public next Friday at Noon on Ticketmaster via NYRangers.com and other Ticketmaster outlets.

New York Sports