NEW YORK, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Defenseman Bryan Berard, who nearly lost his right eye 18 months ago, completed his comeback Thursday by signing a one-year contract with the New York Rangers.
While the team would not disclose details, the New York Daily News reported it is a one-year pact for a guaranteed $2 million. It follows a pair of impressive preseason appearances, during which the 24-year-old had a plus-2 rating.
Berard will be added to the Rangers' active roster and could be in the lineup Friday night for the season opener against the Carolina Hurricnaes. According to the Daily News, he will be paired with two-time Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch.
The newspaper also reported that the Rangers are putting together a four-year deal that will give them the option of picking up the final three years for $9.75 million.
The 6-1, 195-pound Berard agreed to a tryout agreement on Sept. 22 and joined the team six days later. When he suited up at Boston on Saturday, it was his first action since March 11, 2000.
While playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Berard was struck in the eye by the stick of Ottawa Senators right wing Marian Hossa, who was following through on a shot. The damage was so extensive that surgeons considered removing the eye.
The injury was considered career-ending because Berard could not meet the minimum 20/400 vision standard required by NHL rules. He has undergone seven eye operations.
Berard became an unrestricted free agent over the summer after the Leafs did not make him a qualifying offer. He was able to return with the aid of a contact lens that raised his vision to the league's minimum standard.
Earlier last month, Berard competed at the U.S. Olympic Orientation Camp in Colorado Springs.
The top overall pick in the 1995 draft by Ottawa, Berard broke into the NHL with the New York Islanders following a trade and captured the Calder Trophy in 1997 as the league's top rookie.
Two years later, he was traded to the Maple Leafs for goaltender Felix Potvin. In 290 NHL games, Berard has 34 goals and 124 assists.