Pat Leonard at the Daily News notes that the Norwegian online newspaper Nettavisen is reporting the Rangers and Mats Zuccarello's representatives at Newport Sports have begun negotiations on a potential extension to the restricted free agent's one-year, $1.15 million deal.
Leonard adds that Zuccarello's agent, Craig Oster, told the Daily News that while nothing new has happened recently, he and the Rangers have had "preliminary talks" and that both are satisfied with their current arrangement and a willingness to revisit that discussion.
If the Rangers and Zuccarello don't agree on an extension by the end of the season, the diminutive forward could go to arbitration where he'd be sure to get a significant raise next season and then become an unrestricted free agent in 2015.
Zuccarello has 38 points (15g, 23a) this season after scoring just 34 points (11g, 23a) the previous three.
…if you've been a long-time reader of this blog, you know I was vehemently against the signing of Zuccarello back in 2009. Under-sized European players just aren't that appealing to me. Which is why despite taking some time, including a detour in the KHL, I'm shocked at the kind of player Zuccarello has developed into. And it's not so much the play-making and offense he's generating as I knew the skill set was there, but he's easily, pound for pound, the toughest guy in the league. No matter the size of his opponent, he's not afraid to get in their face and he's one of the few Rangers players willing to stick up for a teammate. He's also currently on pace for a 25+ goal season. I mean seriously, other than reader Jack, who thought that was possible two years ago?
…i'd have no problem with the Rangers giving the 26-year old a three-year, $3 million per year extension.
Meanwhile, Zuccarello isn't the only player the Rangers are talking extension with as Ryan Callahan's agent told Leonard that he and the Blueshirts have had "ongoing discussions in the hopes that we can get something done," and that while there have been some "detours" at points, he remains "optimistic."
Callahan, who is making $4.275 million this season, has played just 37 games this year due to shoulder and leg injuries.
Larry Brooks at the New York Post adds that "wide gulfs" exist in contract talks between the Rangers and both Callahan and Dan Girardi.
…similar to my thoughts on Girardi, if Callahan and Sather can compromise on a four year deal, I'm all for the 30-year old captain's return, but if the Rochester native gets greedy I'd have no problems with the Rangers GM exploring a trade at the deadline. Sather can't risk not moving Callahan and then losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.