The New York Rangers announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent forward Jason Ward.
“Jason has proven to be a strong character player who can fill multiple roles,” stated Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather. “He has demonstrated his scoring ability at the AHL level and we feel he can come in and contribute both offensively and defensively for us.”
Ward, 26, won the Les Cunningham Award as the American Hockey League’s most valuable player in 2002-03, when he helped the Hamilton Bulldogs to the best record in the AHL and a trip to the Calder Cup Finals. He collected 72 points (31g, 41a) in the regular season and 21 points (12g, 9a) in the Calder Cup Playoffs that year, participating in the 2003 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic and earning a spot on the First All-Star Team.
Last season, Ward appeared in 77 games with Hamilton, registering 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points, along with 66 penalty minutes. His 54 points and 34 assists ranked second on the club, while his 20 goals ranked third. In four Calder Cup Playoff contests, he tallied two goals and one assist for the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-3, 203-pound native of Chapleau, Ont., has appeared in 110 career NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, registering 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points, along with 43 penalty minutes. Ward has also skated in 296 career AHL games with Fredericton, Quebec and Hamilton, registering 97 goals and 135 assists for 232 points, along with 390 penalty minutes.
Internationally, Ward has represented Canada in several tournaments, including the 1998 and 1999 World Junior Championships, capturing a silver medal in 1999.
Ward was Montreal’s first choice, 11th overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.