A gamble: Defenseman Dan Girardi has been durable, but for how much longer? (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
The Rangers steamed toward next week's NHL trade deadline with two pending free agents, but only one that they couldn't afford not to sign.
Today they got that deal done, inking defenseman Dan Girardi to a long-term extension. Sources are reporting the terms as six years with an average annual value of $5.5 million and a full no-movement clause for the first three seasons, plus a modified no-trade clause for the final three.
That's a raise of more than $2 million per year over his expiring deal, but Giradi still took a hometown discount. Expectations were that he'd have received offers topping $6 million per year in free agency, despite playing a primarily defensive game.
In return though, the Rangers are assuming some risk. Girardi has been surprisingly resilient, missing just four games during his eight NHL seasons, but the physical sacrifice practiced by the 29-year-old will be harder to maintain as he racks up the miles.
The signing takes the best defenseman off the market just ahead of the trade deadline, leaving Cup contenders to fight over the likes of Andrew MacDonald, Henrik Tallinder, Alex Edler and possibly Chris Phillips.
The deal also seems to put an end to any chance that the Rangers will be able to re-sign captain Ryan Callahan. The contract demands of the pending UFA--rumored to be six years and $42 million--price him out of the team's reach.