The Rangers have re-signed restricted free agent Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.
Rangers and Zuccarello have reached agreement on one-year deal for $3.5M, will continue to work on long-term that cannot be signed until 1/1
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) July 22, 2014
Zuccarello, who turns 27 in September, is coming off a career best 59 points in 77 regular season games.
While at face value it might seem mildly disappointing that he is only extended at one year, this is theoretically a genius move by Glen Sather and Jeff Gorton and a brilliant compromise for Mats Zuccarello. The Rangers are tight on cap space with multiple restricted free agents left to sign. Zuccarello was reportedly asking for $4.5 million annually. This deal still allows Zuccarello to get paid a healthy amount of cash for the 2014-2015 season while still setting him up for a big extension in a handful of months as the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically for the 2015-2016 season.
The one concern here is that Zuccarello does become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, and could really force the Rangers’ hand or leave altogether if he wants to. However, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to worry about that happening. Brooks said himself that they’ll continue to work on a long-term deal that, suppositionally, could be agreed upon tomorrow if both sides want. Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period has separately confirmed that this is the plan, so until we hear otherwise there’s no reason to believe that Zuccarello’s future on Broadway is at all in doubt. He’s said numerous times over the past few years how much he loves New York and the Rangers’ organization and even claimed last offseason that he’d prefer playing in Europe instead of for any other NHL team. The two sides will collaborate on crafting a deal to be signed for the future, but for now they can cross Zuccarello off the list and there’s a little bit more breathing room in signing the remaining restricted free agents.
Working under the assumption that one of Mike Kostka, Steve Kampfer, or Matt Hunwick is slotted in as the seventh defenseman and one of J.T. Miller or Oscar Lindberg makes the team as the third-line center, as well as a buffer for call-ups, the Rangers have in the ballpark of $9.5 million in cap space remaining to re-sign Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, and John Moore.
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