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After signing Brad Richards to a nine-year deal Saturday, the New York Rangers will now have to focus on re-signing key players already on the team.
Four Rangers have elected salary arbitration, according to a press release by the National Hockey League Players Association. They are forwards Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Michael Sauer. All four players are restricted free agents and had already received qualifying offers.
The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is July 6 at 5 p.m. ET and hearings will be in Toronto from July 20 to Aug. 4, according to the press release.
The four Rangers who filed for arbitration all played important roles for the team last season and three of them are homegrown talents.
Callahan, who could be the next team captain after the buyout of Chris Drury, had 48 points in a season shortened by injuries. He missed 22 games due to injury and did not play in the first-round playoffs loss to Washington because of a fractured ankle. Without Callahan, the Rangers' offense struggled in the 4-1 series loss.
The Rangers' fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft has served as alternate captain for the past two seasons and has 144 points in 284 career games. Callahan, 26, previously avoided arbitration in 2009 by inking a multiyear deal.
Dubinsky led the team with 54 points and 24 goals in 77 games. The Rangers originally selected Dubinksy in the second round of the 2004 draft and he has 179 points in 316 career games with the Rangers. The 25-year-old staged a holdout in 2009 while negotiating his last contract, eventually landing a two-year deal with the team.
Boyle, 26, is coming off the best year of his career. He came to the Rangers in 2009 and after a quiet first season, he tallied 35 points for the Rangers this season while playing every game. In the playoffs, his line, with Brandon Prust and Sean Avery, earned compliments for its energetic play and setting the tone.
Sauer played his first full season with the Rangers this year and cemented himself on the second defensive pairing with Ryan McDonagh. The 23-year-old played 76 games for the Rangers and totaled 15 points. The Rangers drafted Sauer in the second round of the 2005 NHL draft.
The Rangers' only restricted free agent to not file for arbitration was forward Artem Anisimov, who is not eligible to do so because of playing time.Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.