NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Playing in the recent world hockey championships for the United States might have been the best thing that has happened to defenseman John Moore.
Moore impressed New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero in helping the Americans earn a bronze medal in the Czech Republic and it got him a job when NHL free agency opened Wednesday.
Moore signed a three-year, $5 million contract with New Jersey just days after the Arizona Coyotes made him an unrestricted free agent by not extending a qualifying contract offer.
The deal returns Moore to the New York metropolitan area, where he spent three inconsistent seasons with the Rangers, including one with limited playing time. He was shipped to Arizona in the deal that brought defenseman Keith Yandle to the Rangers.
The 24-year-old Moore never expected the deal with the Devils. He felt he would be playing in Arizona again, but the Coyotes were concerned they might pay too much for him after salary arbitration. So they let him go and the Devils jumped in with Shero and new coach John Hynes reaching out.
Shero was a member of Team USA’s national team advisory board at the world championships and told Moore he was impressed by his play before he separated a shoulder.
“He just told me how much he liked my games, especially on the big ice using my feet and playing within myself and using my strengths,” Moore said in a conference call on Thursday. “It was strictly a constructive conversation about where my game was at. I didn’t see anything attached or interest from the Devils at that time because I was under the impression I was going to be going back to Arizona.”
Now Moore is returning to the New York in a somewhat of a different role. With the Rangers, he was young player with a limited role on a defense that featured Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle and Kevin Klein.
With the Devils, he will be a veteran influence with Andy Greene on a young defensive group that includes Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson. He also fits the style that Shero wants the Devils’ to play. He wants a more up-tempo game and Moore has the wheels.
“That’s the way the game is going,” Moore said. “There is no finer example than the (Stanley Cup) final this year, you look at the way the teams played. You find success modeled after that.”
Moore described last season as a trying one for him. He was suspended early and had trouble getting into the Rangers lineup for most of the season, playing 38 games.
“I never doubted myself throughout the ups and down and peaks and valleys,” said Moore, who played in 19 games with Arizona after being dealt on March 1. “I believed in myself and for Ray and John to reach out to me was very humbling.”
Moore finished the season with two goals and nine assists.
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