Rangers Make Moves in Opening Days of Free Agency
By Matt Calamia
When free agency opened Tuesday afternoon, the Rangers wasted little time in adding defenseman Dan Boyle before addressing depth in the organization by agreeing to terms with free agent forwards Tanner Glass and Chris Mueller, defensemen Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick as well as goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
Glass, a rugged winger with nearly 400 NHL games to his resume, spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins where he scored five goals and 10 assists in 115 games, including 152 penalty minutes. Prior to his stint in the Steel City, Glass spent a year in Winnipeg and two years under Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault in Vancouver from 2009 through 2011. Glass began his career during the 2007-08 season with the Florida Panthers.
In 377 games, the Regina, Saskatoon-native has 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 points, as well as 458 penalty minutes.
“Tanner Glass is a hard-nosed fourth-line player that can kill penalties,” Vigneault said on a conference call Tuesday. “Smart player that will help us in that role.”
Vigneault said that his familiarity with Glass was a “factor,” but that the consensus among the the front office was that Glass could bring a physical element the team may be lacking as currently constructed.
“It was a factor and a consideration, but it had more to do with our whole staff,” Vigneault said. “Everybody thought he’d bring an edge to our team that we’d need.
“He’s improved since I had him, and I think we’re getting a real solid player there.”
Mueller, 28, appeared in nine games for the Dallas Stars last season, spending most of his time with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, where he posted 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games. He spent parts of three seasons with the Nashville Predators, scoring two goals and six assists in 46 games.
“We think he gives us versatility,” Rangers assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton said. “He has some upside offensively, so our guys liked him.”
Kostka, 28, is, according to Gorton, “an offensive guy. He can move the puck. He can skate and has some size. We think he’s going to be a good depth player for us.”
The Etobicoke, Ont.-native split last season with Chicago and Tampa Bay. He scored two goals and three points in nine games for the Blackhawks before appearing in 19 games for Tampa Bay, scoring two goals and eight points. He added two assists in three playoff games for the Lightning.
“We like his character,” Gorton said of the defenseman. “We like the kind of player he is. We think he gives us that added depth.”
Hunwick, the most veteran of the four signings, spent the last four years in Colorado, most recently playing one game with the Avalanche last season. In 128 games with Colorado, Hunwick registered three goals and 22 points.
Prior to arriving in Denver, Hunwick spent four seasons in Boston, with his best season coming in 2008-09 when he scored six goals and 27 points in 53 games. In 164 games with the Bruins, Hunwick tallied 13 goals and 45 points.
Desjardins, 28, has appeared in six NHL games, all with the Tampa Bay Lightning, going 2-4 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average.
He spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, going 9-18-4 with a .900 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average.
On Wednesday, the Blueshirts agreed to terms with forward Chris Bourque, son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque and brother to Rangers prospect, Ryan.
Bourque, 28, was drafted by Washington in the second-round in 2004, last played in the NHL during the 2012-13 season with the Boston Bruins, where he posted one goal and three assists in 18 games. He previously spent three seasons with the Capitals and played 20 games in Pittsburgh.
Bourque spent last season playing in Europe with Kazan Ak-Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League, where he scored two goals and 11 games. He also appeared in 21 games with Biel of the Swiss-A league, where he registered six goals and 13 points in 21 games.