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Rangers sign Zuccarello — one year, $1.15 million

Jul 30, 2013, 11:38 AM EDT

Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers celebrates a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during their game on March 6, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
(March 5, 2011 - Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

One day before an arbitration hearing was scheduled, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million contract for the 2013-14 season.

And with that, there will be no arbitration hearings this summer. (The Leafs’ Mark Fraser also signed.)

In 2013, Zuccarello, 25, had three goals and five assists in 15 regular-season games, followed by one goal and six assists in 12 postseason contests.

With Zuccarello’s deal done, attention will now turn to the Rangers’ most important restricted free agent, Derek Stepan.

Stepan, 23, doesn’t have arbitration rights. At last glance (July 17), there was reportedly no progress between the two sides.

From the New York Post:

Absent pressure points (or an unexpected offer sheet), negotiations with Stepan could well go into September and perhaps bleed into training camp.

Depending on the deal they strike with Stepan, the Rangers may need to make a move in order to fit him under the salary cap.

If it’s a so-called “bridge” contract, like the one PK Subban signed (two years, $5.75 million), they should be fine. If it’s a longer-term deal, a roster adjustment would likely be required.

  1. stakex - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    “Depending on the deal they strike with Stepan, the Rangers may need to make a move in order to fit him under the salary cap.”

    Its possible a trade might happen, but it probably doesn’t have to. After this signing, the Rangers have about $2.2 million in cap space on the surface… which obviously wouldn’t be enough to re-sign Stepan. However everyone keeps forgetting that the Rangers already have 24 players on their roster and only need 20 to start the season. They are heavy two forwards and two defensemen right now and these moves are likely before the season starts:

    Asham and Powe will be sent down (or traded if possible, but that’s unlikely): This will free up $1.8 million if they are sent down and just over $2 million if they are traded.

    Aaron Johnson isn’t going to make the team, and will start the season in the minors: Another $600k will come off the books.

    Stralman, Falk, and Moore (John) will fight for the last two spots on defense. One of them will be sent to the minors at the start of the year and will save the Rangers $900k more.

    —————-

    Right there that’s another $3.3 million in cap space, which means the Rangers actually have $5.5 million or so to work with when it comes to Stepan, and perhaps even more since they could shed yet another forward after he is signed.

    There might be issues with the Stepan signing, but cap space isn’t one of them.

    • Jason Brough - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      From Larry Brooks:
      “The Rangers will likely need to carry 15 forwards on their opening roster because of the post-labrum surgery rehab that will sideline both Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin for the first few weeks of the year — but not for enough time to qualify for long-term exemption — and the need to have a healthy spare available on the opening trip.”

      • stakex - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        Yes, but Brooks is drawing a very thin line right there. He’s saying that Callahan and Hagelin are both going to miss “a few weeks”, but less then 24 days? That seems very unlikely. If both players are not ready to go, its quite likely they will start the season on long term IR and the Rangers will be able to replace them without cap concerns.

        Also, why do the Rangers HAVE to carry an extra healthy player? Is it really that hard to call someone up and put them on a plane the next day if someone is injured? After all the Rangers only play one back to back during their opening road trip.

  2. rpiotr01 - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    I don’t understand Sather’s infatuation with this guy. I just don’t see it.

    • villi5ed - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      Sather is a bona fide lunkhead, but Zucc at this price —- with his hockey sense, creativity, vision, knack for the timely play, along with a pretty good shoot-out repertoire —- is a no-brainer. No question that the guy is not an
      All-Star, but this is a good move.

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