Rangers sign Kasparaitis

NEW YORK, July 2 (UPI) -- The New York Rangers, in desperate need of improving their defense, Tuesday signed hard-hitting defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

In missing the playoffs for the fifth straight time last season, the Rangers were among the worst defensive teams in league, ranking 29th in goals allowed with 258.


The Rangers reportedly outbid the Toronto Maple Leafs for Kasparaitis, who is joining his fourth team.

On Monday, the Rangers also made a huge splash in free agency, signing gritty center Bobby Holik away from the rival New Jersey Devils. That deal was worth a reported $45 million over five years.

Kasparaitis, 29, split last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche. In 80 games, he registered two goals and 12 assists with 142 penalty minutes.

A 10-year veteran, Kasparaitis is widely considered among the hardest hitters in the game at his position. He comes to a team that he often haunted while with Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.

In 648 career games, Kasparaitis has collected 21 goals, 129 minutes and 1,119 penalty minutes.

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