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NHL Free Agency 2012: Brandon Prust Headed To Montreal, John Mitchell To Colorado

The New York Rangers lost three players on the first day of the 2012 NHL free agency period Sunday. Brandon Prust signed a four-year contract worth $2.5 million per season to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile, young center John Mitchell will be making his way to the Colorado Avalanche on a two-year deal. The Rangers also lost goaltender Chad Johnson to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Prust led the Rangers with 152 penalty minutes last season, and recorded 17 points playing in all 82 regular season games. He was reportedly asking for more money than the Rangers were willing to pay. When the team signed Arron Asham earlier in the day, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Prust.

Mitchell was called up 20 games into last season. He started strong, but his play petered off late in the season. In 63 regular season games, Mitchell notched 16 points off five goals and 11 assists. The Rangers have reportedly expressed interest in Ottawa Senators forward Jesse Winchester as a possible replacement.

Johnson did not play with the Rangers last season. He went 22-18-6 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .919 save percentage with the Connecticut Whale last season. He signed a one-year, two-way contract with Phoenix.

For more on the Rangers, please be sure to check out our blog Blueshirt Banter and SB Nation New York for all the latest news and updates. For everything on the NHL's free agency, check out SB Nation hockey hub page.