Thursday night after the Rangers had defeated the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden, Dan Girardi sounded confident about his future with the Blueshirts despite the fact that the pending unrestricted free agent was facing daily questions and rumors surrounding his future heading into next week's NHL trading deadline.
It turns out Girardi had reason to be confident his future was to continue in New York because late Friday afternoon the team announced that its top pair defenseman had agreed to terms on a contract extension. Girardi, who has never played for another organization since signing with the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent on July 1, 2006, will continue to wear the Blueshirt for many years to come.
“Dan has been a Ranger for his entire career, signing with us as an undrafted free agent and working his way to become a top defenseman in the NHL,” said Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather. “His dedication to this club, as a leader both on the ice and in the locker room, is invaluable to this team. We are happy to have been able to ensure that he will continue to wear the Blueshirt.”
The 29 year-old Girardi is the second career-Ranger to sign a long-term extension with the team during the season, joining franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who did likewise back in December.
One of the true success stories in Rangers history, Girardi has risen from a player not selected in the NHL Draft to become a steady top-pair defenseman, and a National Hockey League All Star two years ago. Through a tremendous drive and work ethic Girardi has not only risen through the ranks, but has made himself one of the most popular New York Rangers.
A gritty stay-at-home defenseman, and a fearless shot-blocking machine, Girardi has also been one of the most durable players in the National Hockey League over recent years. He has missed only four games since making his NHL debut on January 27, 2007, two during the 2010-11 season and another pair last season. Girardi began his NHL career by appearing in 330 consecutive games; and he has played in all 60 this year, scoring four goals and totaling 17 points to go along with a +4 plus/minus rating.
Last season Girardi led the league in blocked shots--after finishing fifth the year before--and averaged 25 minutes 24 seconds of ice-time per game, eighth-most in the NHL. In 2011-12 he averaged a career-high 26 minutes 14 seconds per game as he helped the Rangers to 109 points and first place in the Eastern Conference.
Girardi has appeared in 548 career games and accumulated 171 points (35-136-171) and 215 penalty minutes. One-fifth of his career goals have been game-winners. Girardi ranks ninth in franchise history in games played by a defenseman.
In the playoffs Girardi has 19 points (5-14-19) in 64 career post-season contests. Three of his five career playoff goals have been game-winners. During the Rangers march to the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals Girardi amassed 12 points (3-9-12) in 20 games.
This important piece of business now taken care of, Girardi will help lead the Rangers against the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday afternoon in an important Metropolitan Division clash at the Wells Fargo Center.