On the first day of free agency Sunday the Rangers agreed to terms with a pair of forwards who will bring a physical edge to Broadway. Veteran Arron Asham was the first to agree to terms, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Rangers as NHL Free Agency got underway July 1st, and then rugged Michael Haley swapped his Islanders jersey for a Rangers jersey later in the day.
The 34 year-old Asham will become the first player to ever appear in a regular season game with all five of the current Atlantic Division teams when he makes his Rangers debut this fall. Asham, who began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1998-99, also spent four years with the Islanders, one with the Devils, and two with the Flyers before spending the past two season with the Penguins. He has appeared in 756 NHL games, and has notched 206 points (92-144-206) and 940 penalty minutes.
Last season with Pittsburgh Asham scored five goals and recorded 16 points in 64 games, while amassing 76 penalty minutes.
In an interesting side note, Asham will be a teammate of Mike Rupp's on a third different team this season. The two were Devils teammates in 2007-08 and Penguins 'mates in 2010-11.
Haley, 26, is considered to be one of the toughest heavyweights in the National Hockey League. In parts of three seasons with the Islanders, with whom he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008, he racked up 151 penalty minutes in 43 games, including 57 penalty minutes in only 14 games this past season. Haley earned seven fighting majors in his 14 games in 2011-12, ranking second on the Islanders in that category.
While playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL this past season, Haley scored 15 goals, totaled 25 points, and amassed 125 penalty minutes in 51 games. At the NHL level he has scored two goals and three points in 43 career games.
The signings of Asham and Haley couple with the re-signings of goaltender Martin Biron and defenseman Stu Bickel for the four player moves the Rangers have made since Friday.
On the opening day of free agency Sunday, four unrestricted free agents departed the Rangers organization. Rugged forward Brandon Prust signed with the Montreal Canadiens; center John Mitchell joined the Colorado Avalanche; goaltender Chad Johnson signed with the Phoenix Coyotes; and minor league forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault inked an entry-level deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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