Nylander will earn $2.9 million next season, and $3 million in
each of the next two years of the deal that also includes an option
for the 2007-08 campaign.
With a lockout that threatens next season looming, the Rangers -- the NHL's biggest spenders -- had been quiet since the free-agent
shopping season began July 1. But general manager Glen Sather
decided to bring in the 31-year-old center, who has averaged almost
a point per game during his 11 seasons.
"Michael is a highly skilled, versatile player who we feel will
play a significant role on our team," Sather said. "He is a very
intelligent player who will be an integral part of our special teams play."
Nylander, who earned $2.675 million last season, is joining his
third team since March, having been dealt by Washington to Boston
at the NHL trading deadline. He was limited to only one goal and 13
assists in 18 games last season because of a broken leg in the
preseason that ended his streak of 310 consecutive games played -- the league's longest active run.
The native of Sweden scored over 20 goals twice with the Chicago Blackhawks and had more than 50 points in the four seasons before
breaking his right leg. Nylander's best season was in 2000-01 when he posted career highs of 25 goals and 64 points while playing for Chicago.
Boston acquired him from Washington for a sixth-round pick in
the 2006 draft, and the Bruins were believed to be interested in
re-signing him after he had three goals and three assists in a first-round playoff loss to Montreal.
Nylander was part of a star-filled free-agent class that has
found the signing period to be slow. Teams are unsure what the
financial landscape will be once a new collective bargaining
agreement between the NHL and the Players' Association is in place.
The current deal expires on Sept. 15, and the NHL is determined to achieve what it calls cost certainty for its clubs in an effort
to bring down the percentage of revenues that are paid out in player salaries.
New York has long had the league's highest payroll, but that was
trimmed significantly late last season -- the team's seventh
straight without a playoff appearance -- when the Rangers purged
their underachieving roster with several trade deadline deals.
Nylander, who began his NHL career with Hartford in 1992, has
also played for Calgary and Tampa Bay. In 648 regular-season games,
Nylander has 140 goals and 447 points. He has added six goals and
20 points in 30 career playoff games.
Also Tuesday, the Rangers announced that they have re-signed
forward Jamie Lundmark. The 23-year-old center had two goals and
eight assists last season, in which he played only 56 games because
of a knee injury.
Lundmark, the ninth overall pick in the 1999 draft, has 10 goals
and 29 points in 111 NHL games over two seasons.