NEW YORK (AP) Now that the New York Rangers have reached a new deal with defenseman Dan Girardi, they can fully focus on trying to do the same with captain Ryan Callahan before next week's NHL trade deadline.
The 29-year-old Girardi and the Rangers agreed to terms Friday on a long-term contract extension, taking the key right-side defenseman off the trading block and keeping him away from unrestricted free agency this summer.
The deal is reportedly for six years and $33 million, carrying an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million per season - an increase from a $3.325 charge this season.
"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," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement.
"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."
If a new contract couldn't be worked out by the upcoming trade deadline, a real possibility existed that Girardi would have been dealt before receiving a chance to leave without the Rangers getting anything in return.
New York is still trying to work out a new deal with Callahan, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July. The gritty forward has reportedly been holding out for a longer and more lucrative deal than the Rangers have so far been unwilling to agree to. The U.S. Olympian has become a prime candidate to be sent packing in less than a week.
Girardi has finished in the top six in the NHL in blocked shots in each of the past four seasons, and in the top 15 in average ice time in each of the previous three seasons.
In 548 NHL games over eight seasons, the ninth most among defensemen in Rangers history, he has 35 goals and 136 assists. Girardi, an All-Star in the 2011-12 season, has led the NHL in blocked shots twice - including last season - and is first in that category since the start of the 2009-10 season with 847.
Girardi has played in all 60 Rangers games this season, posting four goals and 13 assists. He leads the team in hits (145) and blocked shots, and is second in average ice time at 22 minutes, 40 seconds.
He was signed by the Rangers on July 1, 2006, and made his NHL debut the following January.