The New York Rangers wasted little time replacing Scott Gomez, reaching terms Wednesday with free-agent sniper Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik, 27, agreed to a five-year contract worth $37.5 million US, a little more than what Gomez had left on the seven-year deal he signed with New York two years ago.
But the Rangers feel Gaborik is worth it.
"He is an exciting guy to watch play," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said. "He can skate and does a lot of great things.
"He is a great player, and he is young. I certainly think he is in the Top 10 in this league."
Gomez was traded Tuesday with Tom Pyatt and Mike Busto to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Chris Higgins and defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko.
New York had no intention of signing Higgins, an unrestricted free agent, and set its sights on Gaborik when the NHL's free-agency period started at noon ET.
"We had to wait until today before we talked to Gaborik," Sather said. "But I had a pretty good idea that he was interested in coming to New York.
"It took us a long time to get the deal done. But we're very happy and excited that we got him signed.
"There was more balls than that in the air. But Gaborik was the guy that we targeted from the beginning."
'He has been very productive'
Gaborik had played his entire eight-year NHL career with the defence-minded Minnesota Wild, and remains the franchise leader in goals (219) and points (437).
"Gaborik played under that system, and he has got almost a point a game," Sather noted. "He has been very productive, so it is going to be very interesting to watch to see how he does with [head coach John] Tortorella's system.
"As Torts has described, we're going to have a very up-tempo speed game. This guy fits the bill to a T."
Gaborik scored a career-high 42 goals in 2007-08 but has struggled to stay healthy, playing 207 games and missing 121 since the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 NHL season.
A flashy yet fragile winger with a deft scoring touch, he spent most of last season recovering from hip surgery and finished with 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points in just 17 games.
"He is very healthy," Sather said. "Mario Lemieux had the surgery that he had, [so] we don't expect that there are going to be any problems."
Gaborik was Minnesota's first-ever draft pick, selected third overall by the expansion entry in 2000.
The Wild swiftly filled the void left by his departure by offering a six-year, $30-million US deal to unrestricted free agent forward Martin Havlat, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks.