Update 10:55am: Larry Brooks is reporting that the deal is worth $2.55 million annually.
Update 10:30am: Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the deal is two years. No monetary details have been released.
Original Post: Per Bob McKenzie, the Rangers have agreed to terms with RFA defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Del Zotto will be in camp today. MDZ was priority number one for the Rangers in their “preseason” agenda.
We will post more updates as they become available.
Back in June, we were the first site to really sit down and figure out what MDZ’s contract might be. Check it out here.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
With the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding yesterday the NHL lockout officially ended, and teams are now free to pursue business as usual. Teams are now finally allowed to sign free agents (restricted or unrestricted), make trades, make call ups, and perform other duties required for the start of the season.
For Glen Sather and the Rangers, there isn’t much to do to get this team ready for the season. Their top 12 forwards are already set, as are their top six defensemen and two goaltenders. That said, there are a few moves we can expect the Rangers to make in the coming days, some obvious, some not so obvious. Let’s get into the moves we should expect the Rangers to announce
1. Sign Michael Del Zotto
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Big decision looming for MDZ
Michael Del Zotto needs to be very conscious of how the next few days play out. How the young blueliner deals with the contract situation and the start of the upcoming abbreviated season is – to an extent – a crossroad in his young Rangers career.
The Rangers fan base can be an unforgiving one. When the crowd turns on you, the Garden can be a tough place to play (see: Malik, Marek; Rozsival, Michal). Negativity surrounding a player can certainly affect their performance, as these former Rangers would attest to. Del Zotto is in danger of coming across as greedy or unrealistic in the eyes of many, especially when the focus should be on getting up to speed as quickly as possible.
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Does Kreider deserve to make the opening night roster?
I’m writing a musings article. That can only mean one thing: The lockout is over. Who else thought the Gary Bettman ‘apology’ fell on deaf ears? Show of hands? Thought so. On to the musings.
TSN had an article earlier this week titled: “Leafs stand to benefit from new CBA”. Of course, this is presumptive from TSN. When you’re a franchise that’s been mismanaged for more than a decade, it’s dangerous to assume anything. More on that later.
Should we expect quick movement on the Del Zotto contract front?
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(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Two summers ago (2011), we started writing posts titled “Reasonable Expectations.” The idea behind these posts was to outline what we should expect from some of our core youth on the Rangers. It’s natural to expect every player to turn into a first liner, but that’s not reality.
When we wrote these expectation posts two summers ago, they were obviously for last season (2011-2012). Now that the season has come to an end, Suit brought up a good idea to track how we did with our predictions. Since it was my idea to start with the Reasonable Expectation posts, it only makes sense that I go first.
Beginning in February of the 2010-2011 season, I wrote three Reasonable Expectation posts: one for Michael Del Zotto, one for the Brandon Dubinsky/Artem Anisimov/Ryan Callahan line, and one for Tim Erixon. Considering the players I wrote about, it looks like I have a kiss of death. Apparently if I write a Reasonable Expectations post about a player, he has a 60% chance of being traded for Rick Nash.
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We know Ryan McDonagh is back in the US and we know Carl Hagelin has terminated his deal with his hometown team back in Sweden. We also know Rick Nash has had his own injury issues despite scoring at an impressive rate in Switzerland. It goes without saying that the NHL is the best league in the world when they’re actually playing hockey. So why then are so many Rangers players struggling to adapt to playing in inferior leagues with inferior players?
Rick Nash aside, and perhaps Hagelin – although in Sweden’s second tier, don’t forget – no Ranger has exactly set the world alight in Europe thus far. In one way it’s hard to be overly critical. After all with little practice time, familiarisation to their clubs, their leagues’ playing style and teammates and a lack of long term perspective (given the short term deals struck with clubs) there isn’t a great basis for success for players heading to Europe.
Again, to be fair it’s not just Rangers players that have failed to make a significant impact. For example Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t exactly got his game back on track in the KHL, Evander Kane suffered a torrid time in Russia while Max Paciorettey had a miserable time in Europe and came back at the first opportunity following a somewhat bitter divorce with his Euro employers.
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Is Del Zotto ready to cash in?
Most players head to Europe during the lockout to keep in game shape. Clearly this is also a concern for Michael Del Zotto who, without an NHL contract, is taking more risk than most as he headed to Switzerland. However, there is another side to this, and that is Del Zotto making the Rangers management team realise how much the young defenseman is worth as the NHL tries to get back on the ice.
Make no mistake, the Ranger need Del Zotto on the ice when (if) the league resumes. He’s their best offensive blueliner (depending on your opinion of Ryan McDonagh’s current offensive level) who playes 21 minutes per game at a young age. Throw in the fact that the Rangers are without significant organisational depth at the position and that Del Zotto still has significant upside, and he becomes an important part of the Rangers present and future. Both the Rangers and Del Zotto know his core role going forward. What hasn’t been agreed yet is how much each side is willing to value that role with the organisation in terms of dollars.
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MDZ is the newest Ranger headed overseas.
As you probably will have heard by now, Michael Del Zotto is the next Ranger to head over to Europe to get some game time. As Del Zotto laces up for Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss league he’ll be going to a league that is better than advertised (despite not having the reputation of the Swedish league or the media power of the KHL), and will be joining a league that has evidenced plenty of financial clout to entice NHL stars to the league during the lockout. Of course, he’ll be lacing up against Rick Nash and Joe Thornton. Monitoring how Del Zotto handles Nash in particular could be both entertaining and interesting.
The lockout has been disastrous timing for Del Zotto for multiple reasons. After an up and down first two years as a pro, Del Zotto really came on last year in leaps and bounds and will have been hoping to continue his solid development and establish himself as a premiere young defenseman in the NHL. Those hopes, for now, have been put on hold, the lockout’s timing has been poor for Del Zotto.
Secondly is Del Zotto’s contractual stalemate. Without a CBA agreement in place Del Zotto finds himself without a contract and playing at greater risk than the ‘average’ NHL player heading overseas. Of course, Del Zotto needs hockey to aid his development so the risk is worth it for the young Ranger but it’s still significant risk.
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Adam Rotter of SNYRB has the translated tweets from Sweden, but it looks like Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi may be joining teammate Carl Hagelin in the HockeyAllsvenskan with Södertälje. This is just another blow to the fans who believe a season will begin sooner rather than later, as more players flock to Europe to find ice time.
It’s interesting to see Del Zotto heading overseas, as he doesn’t have a contract with the Rangers. It makes him cheaper to sign, but it’s a much bigger risk for MDZ. If he gets hurt, he doesn’t have the NHL contract to slide back on and still get paid (via insurance) if/when the lockout ends. As for Girardi, he will need to go through the normal steps of insuring his contract before signing.
This isn’t confirmed yet, as contract details need to be ironed out, but at least it’s good to see that three core Rangers will be playing with each other overseas.
As we approach the lockout deadline – faster than most people would wish – lets jump straight into another episode of Musings and talk about non – CBA, Rangers orientated stuff.
Personally I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the Steve Eminger re-signing. Yes, he fits in well with the club and has had partial success with the Rangers however the Eminger and most, if not all, veteran defenseman available would have limited offers at this stage. My preference would have been to invite Eminger and a couple of other veterans to camp (if there is one) and have an open competition. Everything seems pretty safe and secure now, heading into camp.
NHL.com recently started discussing fantasy options (getting ahead of themselves?) and they talked about Chris Kreider as a strong sleeper candidate. Kreider is exactly that. He can’t be a sure fire draft pick and his actual (non fantasy) production can’t be projected too closely, despite his playoff exposure. But Kreider has tremendous potential next season; for fantasy owners and the Rangers.
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