Matt Cullen

Rangers Call In Cullen

The first name free agent to sign with the Rangers will be coming fresh off a Stanley Cup win.  Matt Cullen today agreed to terms with the New York Rangers on a multi-year deal.  The former 2nd round pick had a career year last season scoring 25 goals and 49 points, both career highs.  Set to turn 30 later this year, Cullen will join his fourth NHL team following stints with Anaheim, Florida and Carolina.

In terms of impact to the Rangers, it appears as if they have signed him to slot into the second line center spot.  Cullen does not have particularly impressive offensive statistics, but had a 52.1% win rate in the face-off circle and will bring some stability to that part of the game.  The signing means Jarkko Immonen will now likely have to beat out Dominic Moore to force a re-working of the center position.

Matt Cullen
Height: 6-1Age: 29
Weight: 210Birthday: November 2, 1976
Position: CenterBirthplace: Virginia MN, USA
Shoots: LeftDrafted: 1996 NHL Entry Draft – Mighty Ducks of Anaheim – #35 (2nd round)
Salary: 4 years, 11.2 million
1995-1996St Cloud StateNCAA3912294128 
1996-1997St Cloud StateNCAA3615304570 
1996-1997Baltimore BanditsAHL63367 
1997-1998Cincinnati Mighty DucksAHL181512272 
1997-1998Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL6162127-4232075 
1998-1999Cincinnati Mighty DucksAHL31238 
1998-1999Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL75111425-124751112 
1999-2000Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL80132639+52410137 
2000-2001Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL82103040-233840159 
2001-2002Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL79183048-12431164 
2002-2003Anaheim Mighty DucksNHL5071421-4122154 
2002-2003Florida PanthersNHL306612-4221077 
2003-2004Florida PanthersNHL5661319-2241075 
2005-2006Carolina HurricanesNHL78252449+44080214 
NHL Totals  591102178280-41254 


It had been expected for some time, but the Rangers opened up the July 1st free agency period with the official announcement that defenseman Karel Rachunek has agreed to terms with the club.  According to TSN, the deal was worth 1.8 million for one year.

New York acquired Rachunek along with Alexandre Giroux in the March 2004 trade that sent Greg de Vries to Ottawa.   Rachunek played out the remainder of the NHL season with the Rangers, and then left for Europe during the lockout season.  With the lockout still in effect, the Czech native elected to return for another season with Yaroslavl of the Russian Super League, and remained there after the lockout was resolved in August of last year.

Last season the former Senators 9th round draft pick registered the highest point total of any defenseman in the Russian league, and drew several positive reports about his play both in Russia and the Czech Republic the previous season.  Still questions remain about his motivations, and a previous hold-out while with the Senators and comments in the Czech media had lead to speculation about whether he really wants to play in New York.

 With Rachunek under contract, the Rangers now have four defensemen (Rachunek, Kasparaitis, Ozolinsh and Malik) under contract and two more (Rozsival and Tyutin) in which they have offered qualifying contracts to.

Karel Rachunek #23
Height: 6-2Age: 26
Weight: 212Birthday: August 27, 1979
Position: DefenseBirthplace: Gottwaldov, Czech Republic
Shoots: RightDrafted: 1997 NHL Entry Draft – Ottawa Senators – #229 (9th round)
Salary: 1 year – 1.8 million
1997-1998HC ZlinCZE2712316 
1998-1999HC ZlinCZE39391288 
1999-2000Grand Rapids GriffinsIHL626202664 
1999-2000Ottawa SenatorsNHL60002 
2000-2001Ottawa SenatorsNHL713303360 
2001-2002Ottawa SenatorsNHL513151824 
2002-2003Yaroslavl LokomotivRUS93038 
2002-2003Binghamton SenatorsAHL602210 
2002-2003Ottawa SenatorsNHL584252930 
2003-2004Ottawa SenatorsNHL601161729 
2003-2004New York RangersNHL121344 
2004-2005Znojemsti Excalibur OrliCZE21561155 
2004-2005Yaroslavl LokomotivRUS27681467 
2005-2006Yaroslavl LokomotivRUS4511203173 
NHL Totals  2581289101149 


Needing another goaltender in the system, the Rangers went back to the past and signed free agent goaltender Stephen Valiquette.  Valiquette who played with Hartford and the Rangers in the 2003-04 season was originally acquired in the trade that sent Petr Nedved and Jussi Markkanen to Edmonton.  The 6’5″ goaltender was part of the AHL league leading goaltending duo with Jason Labarbera in 2004-05 and then elected the following summer to play in Russia.  He will return to North America with the team that last held his rights.

While the signing of Valiquette could perhaps signal a possible trade of Al Montoya, it seems also likely that the Rangers secured Valliquette’s services as insurance against injuries to the NHL goaltenders and to provide some support to Montoya as he enters his second professional season.

NOTE: Valiquette and Rachunek played for the same Russian Super League side last year, along with a former Ranger draft pick Ilja Gorokhov.

Stephen Valiquette
Height: 6-5Age: 28
Weight: 205Birthday: August 20, 1977
Position: GoaltenderBirthplace: Etobicoke ON, Canada
Catches: LeftDrafted: 1996 NHL Entry Draft – Los Angeles Kings – #190 (8th round)
Salary: Not published
1994-1995Sudbury WolvesOHL413820062.610 
1995-1996Sudbury WolvesOHL391887131623.910 
1996-1997Sudbury WolvesOHL613311212972324.201.899 
1996-1997Dayton BombersECHL38910064.030.882 
1997-1999Sudbury WolvesOHL14807571503.720.904 
1997-1998Erie OttersOHL2815251673652.563.917 
1998-1999Lowell Lock MonstersAHL15901033.050.885 
1998-1999Hampton Roads AdmiralsECHL3117131873842.941.916 
1999-2000Trenton TitansECHL12692561363.121.902 
1999-2000New York IslandersNHL619320061.870.949 
1999-2000Providence BruinsAHL16010033.000.927 
1999-2000Lowell Lock MonstersAHL14727850362.970.901 
2000-2001Springfield FalconsAHL2010667101543.040.907 
2001-2002Bridgeport Sound TigersAHL2010711051452.522.923 
2002-2003Bridgeport Sound TigersAHL34196215143862.632.912 
2003-2004Edmonton OilersNHL11300029.230.714 
2003-2004Toronto RoadrunnersAHL35206414145892.592.913 
2003-2004Hartford Wolf PackAHL7400241152.251.928 
2003-2004New York RangersNHL211911063.030.915 
2004-2005Hartford Wolf PackAHL35189919111561.771.935 
2005-2006Yaroslavl LokomotivRUS452734891.950.923 
NHL Totals  932531014 


The Rangers have added more depth to the blueline with the announcement of the signing of Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman Dan Girardi.  Girardi joined the Wolf Pack last season as an undrafted rookie starting the season in Charlotte, but quickly making his mark at the AHL level.  He finished second to Thomas Pöck in scoring from the blueline for the Pack and was selected for the 2005-06 AHL All-Rookie team.

Girardi is expected to start the season in Hartford, but there may be a chance that the Rangers give him a look if he can prove last year wasn’t a fluke.

Daniel Girardi
Height: 6-1Age: 22
Weight: 205Birthday: April 29, 1984
Position: DefenseBirthplace: Welland ON, Canada
Shoots: RightDrafted: Undrafted
Salary: Not published
2000-2001Barrie ColtsOHL60000 
2001-2002Barrie ColtsOHL210110 
2002-2003Barrie ColtsOHL313131624 
2002-2003Guelph StormOHL361131420 
2003-2004Guelph StormOHL688394755 
2004-2005Guelph StormOHL385202524 
2004-2005London KnightsOHL314101414 
2005-2006Charlotte CheckersECHL71456 
2005-2006Hartford Wolf PackAHL668313944 
NHL Totals   
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