Bobby Holik bolts for Rangers

Bobby Holik is headed across the Hudson River.

Holik, 31, went from the Meadowlands through the Lincoln Tunnel to nearby Manhattan on Monday, bolting the New Jersey Devils for the New York Rangers.

The coveted unrestricted free agent centre reportedly agreed to a five-year contract with New York worth a whopping $45 million US.

Holik earned $3.1 million US last season, his 10th with New Jersey.

"We are pleased to add a player of Bobby's calibre to our roster," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said. "He is one of the league's premiere two-way centremen, combining superlative size and passion for the game with an intense desire to win and excellent leadership qualities."

Speculation had the Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs also in hot pursuit with offers of $42.5 million US and $40 million US, respectively.

"We did, in my mind, put in a very substantial offer this morning and we felt comfortable with the offer," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "There are certain things we can't control, it was a decision he had to make.

"It's his future, I respect that. I wish him the best."

"The only offer I gave serious thought to came from the Rangers," admitted Holik, who was further enticed to New York by Eric Lindros.

"He told me a bit about last year and what they had in mind for the future. It was a nice touch by the Rangers."

Holik had 25 goals and 29 assists for 54 points with 97 penalty minutes in 81 games this past season.

A native of Jihlava, Czech Republic, he has 240 goals and 311 assists for 551 points with 954 penalty minutes in 878 games over 12 NHL seasons with the Hartford Whalers and Devils.

Holik, a two-time all-star, captured a pair of Stanley Cups with New Jersey in 1995 and 2000.

"I gave the Devils more than one chance, not just today, but over the last 13 months to sign me to a long-term deal," Holik said. "I didn't make this decision just today.

"A lot of things have gone through my head this year."

Drafted 10th overall by Hartford in 1989, Holik was dealt to the Devils with a second-round draft pick (Jay Pandolfo) in 1993 for Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich on Aug. 28, 1992.