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Rangers bolster Stanley Cup odds

Watch for the New York Rangers' Stanley Cup odds to get a boost in the weeks ahead as the market adjusts to their signing of the most coveted free agent of the summer.

The Rangers inked Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million contract over the weekend, giving them the top-line center they've been coveting for the past couple of seasons. Richards will now be tasked with putting some life into New York's offense, and maximizing the production of talented but underperforming winger Marian Gaborik.

On the latest NHL futures at Bovada the Rangers are listed at 35/1 to claim  the 2012 Stanley Cup, and that line could get less lucrative for bettors as more money pours in on New York. The Rangers, though, still have some work to do this summer, with restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Artem Anisimov  needing contracts fit under the team's salary cap.

The Washington Capitals also made a splash as free agency opened, picking up veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun on the cheap (1 year, $1.5 million), retaining forward Brooks Laich (six years, $27 million), and also signing forward Joel Ward (four years, $12 million) and defenseman Roman Hamrlik (two years, $7 million). The Capitals are at 10/1 on the latest Stanley Cup odds at Bovada.

The Buffalo Sabres made two of the most expensive signings on the weekend, inking defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a 10-year, $40 million contract and forward Ville Leino to a six-year, $27 million deal. That's put Buffalo at 20/1 on the Stanley Cup odds at Bovada.

The busiest team has been the Florida Panthers, who have had to spend to get to the league's salary cap floor. The Panthers added forwards Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc, Tomas Fleischmann, and Sean Bergenheim, defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Brian Campbell, and goalie Jose Theodore over the past week, but lost goalie Vokoun to the Capitals. Florida sits with 75/1 Cup odds at Bovada right now, and would need a quick start to the season to get those odds improved.

Other notable deals at the opening of the NHL's free agency period had the Blue Jackets signing defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million contract, the Maple Leafs adding center Tim Connolly with a two-year, $9.5 million deal, the Canadiens adding winger Erik Cole at four years and $18 million, and the Flyers bringing Jaromir Jagr back from Europe with a one-year, $3.3 million contract.

The Flyers, who also shipped out forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov over the past week, are at 10/1 on the latest Stanley Cup odds at Bovada as bettors try to analyze whether their drastic moves actually made the team better heading into the 2011/12 NHL season.