NY Rangers Update: Zuccarello Signs, Stepan Next
Added by Ryan Heine on July 31, 2013.
The Rangers agree to a contract with free agent forward Mats Zuccarello.
The New York Rangers and Mats Zuccarello were able to agree to a one-year, $1.15 million deal on Tuesday, and thus avoid arbitration. The arbitration hearing was set for Wednesday after the Rangers made a $735,000 qualifying offer.
Zuccarello, whose most likely alternative to signing with the Blueshirts was returning to play in Europe, had eight points in 15 games for the Rangers in 2013. He should contest for a top-six forward spot, especially for the first few weeks of the season when the team will be without Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, who both will be recovering from shoulder surgery. The team may not have even made an effort to resign Zuccarello if Callahan and Hagelin were healthy.
The Zuccarello signing means that the Rangers have about $2.8 million for Derek Stepan. As I reported in an earlier article, Stepan is probably looking for $3.5 – $4 million. Stepan, who will go into camp as the Rangers first line center, does not have arbitration rights. We will see if he takes less money than he is worth to stay with the Blueshirts. The team will obviously gain cap space if a player or two departs, which would help give Stepan the money he deserves. He is the Rangers only restricted free agent that remains unsigned.
Rangers’ fans will be happy to hear that Marc Staal says he is 100% healthy. In his interview with Jim Cerny, Staal did not directly mention his eye, but said he is not dealing with injuries as he has in previous summers. One thing that is for sure: hearing Staal and 100% healthy in the same sentence sounds pretty good.
Keep an eye on Rangers Rick Nash and Staal of Canada, Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, and Stepan of the United States, and Henrik Lundqvist and Hagelin of Sweden as they head to their Olympic orientation camps.