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Rangers’ McDonagh signs with KHL club

Oct 10, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

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One of the NHL’s breakout stars from last year is on his way to Russia.

(Well, technically Kazakhstan.)

Ryan McDonagh — one of the key components of the Rangers’ conference finals run — has agreed to terms with KHL club HC Barys Astana, according to the New York Daily News.

The 23-year-old rearguard played in every single game for the Rangers in 2011-12 (102 in all) and, in a triple-overtime playoff win against Washington, logged an eye-popping 53:21 in ice time. It was the most any Ranger defenseman had played in the last 25 years and cemented McDonagh as one of the Blueshirts’ heart-and-soul guys.

McDonagh referenced his dedication to the club in an email to the Daily News.

“The decision was tough [to join Barys] but ultimately I wanted to put myself in a situation that would best prepare me to be playing at my best when the Rangers start up again,” he explained. “I love playing this game and this is a great opportunity for me to play and stay in game shape so I can ultimately be at my best to help the Rangers win.”

As for McDonagh’s new club — Astana has some familiar faces, including former a pair of ex-Rangers in Nigel Dawes and Nik Antropov.

It also features a tantalizing defensive pairing option in Tampa Bay blueliner Victor Hedman, who signed a lockout deal with the club in late September.

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