NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers will buy out the remaining three years of defenseman Dan Girardi’s contract.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the buyout Wednesday after the team agreed to terms with forward Matt Puempel. Girardi was set to count $5.5 million against the salary cap through 2019-20 and with his no-movement clause would have had to be protected in the upcoming Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.

By buying out the 33-year-old veteran, the Rangers save almost $2.9 million against the cap next season and almost $1.9 million the following two years.

Team President Glen Sather, who was the GM when New York signed Girardi as an undrafted free agent in 2006, called his contributions immeasurable and said, “He has been a role model through his relentless determination, giving everything he had to this organization both on and off the ice.”

In a statement released through the team, Girardi said, “I poured my heart and soul into this team for the past 11 seasons and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Girardi becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team beginning July 1. He had four goals and 11 assists last season and in 788 career NHL games has 46 goals and 184 assists.

Agreeing to terms with Puempel was another move made with the expansion draft in mind. Getting a deal done with the 24-year-old helps New York satisfy the minimum expansion draft requirement of exposing at least two forwards under contract for 2017-18.

The Rangers claimed the 24-year-old Puempel off waivers from Ottawa in November. He had six goals and three assists in 40 games last season and has 10 goals and five assists in 79 career NHL games.

New York also named former player Jed Ortmeyer as director of player development, Steve Eminger as a professional scout and Ben Prentiss as strength and conditioning consultant.
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