On the first day of Rangers training camp in 2003 at Burlington, a young man out of Harvard named Dominic Moore sent Mark Messier flying to the ice in an open-ice collision in the neutral zone.

“I looked up at the last second and didn’t know who it was,” the then 23-year-old center said. “I was just trying to protect myself. It was basically an accident.

“After my visor was cleaned off, I figured out pretty quick who it was. You never know if you’re going to have a flying elbow come at you. But he was real nice about it.

“I’m just doing my best to make the team.”

Moore did not make the club out of his first pro training camp, though he would play five games with the Rangers that season, during the first of which in Montreal on Nov. 1, 2003 he recorded three assists.

But he did make the Blueshirts and the NHL for good in 2005-06, spending the year centering Ryan Hollweg and Jed Ortmeyer on the effective and popular HMO fourth line before going to Nashville for Adam Hall on the front end of a three-way deal with Pittsburgh following the season that would trigger a nine-team odyssey across seven seasons.

Now, Moore is returning to where it all began after signing a one-year, $1 million contract with the Blueshirts on an opening day of the free-agent market when the Rangers did not have enough cap space to make either a big splash or a big mistake.

The Rangers also signed veteran winger Benoit Pouliot to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million and 30-year-old defenseman Aaron Johnson to a one-year deal worth $600,000.

The three signings leave the club little wiggle room in negotiations with Group II free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello.