Heading into this offseason, the New York Rangers had a laundry list of items to complete: find a No. 1 center to pair with Marian Gaborik and sign a all five of their restricted free agents. Day two of free agency, the Rangers accomplished the signing of Brad Richards and by Friday afternoon, they'd signed two of their young free agents, Michael Sauer and Artem Anisimov.
Early Friday, the Rangers inked 23-year-old defenseman Sauer to a two-year deal worth $1.25 million a year. He made $500,000 last season.
Sauer was a second-round pick in 2005 who spent three years with the Rangers AHL team and was on the brink of being a bust because of injuries at the lower levels that hampered his play, but last year he really impressed in training camp and he broke out in a big way. Sauer become a dependable second-pair defenseman with Ryan McDonagh. The physical 6-foot-3, 220-pound Sauer had 15 points in 76 games last season.
Anisimov was signed to a two-year deal worth $1.875 per year. A very nice deal considering, Anisimov could've received offer sheets from other teams as he wasn't arbitration-eligiable.
Anisimov has seen a slow but steady progression at the NHL level. In his second season, the 23-year-old improved in every facet of the game, tallying 44 points (compared to 28 in his rookie year), while scoring 18 goals (compared to 12) and 26 assists (compared to 16). More importantly, he began to earn the trust of John Tortorella as he developed more defensive responsibility and often played some on the penalty kill. Anisimov was one of four players to play in all 82 games for the Rangers.