Thursday September 11th, 2014

Ryan Malone is getting his second chance.

New York Post beat writer Larry Brooks has reported that the Rangers have signed the troubled free-agent winger to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000.

It was initially thought that Malone, 34, would head to the team's camp on a professional tryout, but New York may have locked him up after rumors swirled that other clubs were interested in his services.

Hard to see a downside in a deal where the Blueshirts' financial commitment barely slips in above the league's minimum salary.

A few intriguing players remain at the bottom of the free agent barrel

The question is, what's the upside? No doubt the team was looking to backfill some of the veteran depth it lost to free agency this summer, and Malone's bulk and tempestuous nature could be nice adds to a group that needs a bit of both. And he's coming off a season with Tampa Bay in which he shot a career-low 5.3%, well below his average of 13.8%. If he can come anywhere near that old mark, he might be able to provide the 12-to-15 goals the Rangers will need out of that bottom-six slot.

But that rough season may not have been an aberration. Malone is deep into the back nine of his career, and while 641 games may seem like low mileage, he plays the sort of heavy game that leads to early breakdowns. His skating, never really anything to brag about, showed serious signs of deterioration and led to him being a regular scratch during the second half of last season.

And then there are his off-ice troubles. Malone was arrested for DUI and possession of 1.3 grams of cocaine in April. He pleaded no contest to the DUI charge in August and had the cocaine charge dismissed, but the Lightning had already seen enough and they bought him out back in June. 

It will be one of the year's great stories if Malone's trip to rock bottom leads to a renaissance on the ice, and he'll certainly have a lot of folks cheering for that to happen. It's more likely, though, that this roll of the dice by GM Glen Sather won't amount to much.

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