Derek Boogaard, one of the league's toughest fighters, was found dead by family members in his Minneapolis apartment Friday. He was 28.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said foul play was not suspected and the death was under routine investigation. An autopsy was pending.
"Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual ... who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native signed a four-year, $6.5 million deal with the Rangers in July after five seasons with the Wild. He played 22 games and missed the last 52 of the regular season with a concussion and a shoulder injury.
"Unreal guy. Just a really big teddy bear," Wild goalie and former teammate Niklas Backstrom told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Outside the rink, he didn't want bad for anyone."
He was a seventh-round draft pick by the Wild in 2001.
West final: For the first time since 2007, the Sharks open a playoff series on the road, a detail that underscores their long-standing success over the 82-game schedule and indirectly highlights their failure to make it as far as the Stanley Cup final.
San Jose got this far a year ago, only to be swept by the Blackhawks. It faces the Canucks in Vancouver beginning Sunday.
"The team started the season talking about growth," said defenseman Dan Boyle, who was on the Lightning's 2004 Cup-winning team. "This is where we start growing, from here now."
Islanders: Rookie of the year finalist Michael Grabner (team-high 34 goals) agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $15 million.