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RANGERS SIGN...VACLAV PROSPAL?!?!

Crooked Larry Brooks writes in his Rangers loving/bashing column that the Rangers have signed Vinny Prospal...

As contract negotiations with Brandon Dubinsky have hit a speed bump, the Rangers have signed 34-year-old free agent forward Vinnie Prospal to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, The Post has learned.

Prospal, who became unrestricted when the Lightning bought him out of the final three seasons of the four-year, $14 million contract he had signed with Tampa Bay last summer, is most effective on the wing but also can play center.

The plan at the moment is to give Dubinsky the opportunity to claim the center position on the first line that will feature Marian Gaborik on the right and either Sean Avery or Christopher Higgins on the left. But if Dubinsky cannot handle the assignment, Prospal, who is strong on the puck, probably would get the call.

Prospal, who played for head coach John Tortorella before and after the Lightning's 2004 Cup-winning season in which he was in Anaheim, recorded 45 points (19-26) last year. The 12-year NHL veteran scored 33 goals two years ago for the Lightning and Flyers and recording 80 points and 55 assists with Tampa Bay in 2005-06.

Dubinsky, a Group II free agent, and the Rangers have been in contract talks for a number of weeks, but it now seems as if the parties are not going to reach an agreement on a multi-year contract. Unless Dubinsky can attract an offer sheet on which the Blueshirts would have the right of first refusal, it appears as if he will play the season on his one-year qualifying offer of $698,500.

Well what do you all think about all of this? To be honest I thought the Rangers were going to sign Prospal just because of Torts. But this news about Dubinsky is rather concerning.

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