Mats Zuccarello Chronicles: From signing a 1 year deal to impending Unrestricted Free Agent

Mats Zuccarello(AP)

Mats Zuccarello(AP)

Yesterday’s article set off a bit of a firestorm when a report came out of Norway that this may be Zuccarello’s last season on Broadway. As I stated last night, I will say it again – no one knows for sure what will happen next.

From time to time, we at FullTilt like to go back in time and share some of the things we wrote. Here is a collection of articles since July to date chronicling the Mats Zuccarello contract saga.

What’s Zuccarello Worth 7/3/14

“I want to stay a Ranger.” Those were Mats Zuccarello’s words on June 30th. Rangers fan’s hearts swelled with hope and joy that our little “hobbit” felt that way. He even said, “the most important thing for me is the number of years, not necessarily the salary. I want to compete for the Cup and not just focus on maximizing my salary.”

Flash forward to the aftermath of free agent frenzy, where his former line-mate Benoit Pouliot cashed in a ridiculous 5 year contract for $20 million! Now a report from Norway’s VG Sporten states Zuccarello is looking for $5 million a season.

Of course the dilemma is should you pay him that much? After making only 1.15M last season, a jump to 5M is a raise of almost 500%! The 26 year old winger was a pleasant surprise, but he wasn’t that incredible.

Mats Zuccarello led the NYR in points with 59 (Getty)

Terrible seasons by Rick Nash and Derek Stepan made him the leading scorer by default. A full season of Marty St. Louis and it wouldn’t be a shock if he was the 4th or 5th leading point getter next season.

They both have mutual interest in getting something done. However, the gap is fairly wide, anywhere from to 1 – 1.5 million dollars. The Rangers have already made the qualifying offer, so worst case scenario is arbitration.

Still what to pay him? The first thing both parties normally do is look for comps (comparable). Here is a list I made simply by looking at players close in points. Mind you, both parties will dig a lot deeper for their arguments.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.45.02 PM

I eliminated the guys at or close to 30 goals, because they are naturally worth more. I highlighted in red, players who play like Zuccarello in both style and role with a few stretches here and there.

When you look at the players, on the high end you have St. Louis’ TJ Oshie who scored 1 more point at $4.175M. On the low end you have the NYI’s Frans Nielsen at 2.75M, but he’s a center so it throws it off a bit.

If you look at the contract Jussi Jokinen just landed at 4M, you get a gauge of where Zuccarello might end up. Another great comp is Ondrej Palat who is a young winger at 3.33M or David Perron 3.812M.

Notice, only TJ Oshie was over 4 million and that’s probably not where Zuccarello will land. If this were to go to a salary arbitrator, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zucc was awarded anywhere between 3.3 – 4M dollars.

The Rangers want Zuccarello back and they may entice him with an extra year, maybe 5 instead of 4 and that could get the deal done. If both parties look at the numbers I just presented, it shouldn’t take long to hammer out a deal.

At the end of the day Mats will re-sign with the Rangers and be a heck of a lot richer too.

ZUCCARELLO RE-SIGNS, HOLD THE CELEBRATION 7/22/14

Reports are coming out that Mats Zuccarello has signed a very cap friendly deal for 3.5 million next season. While that is fantastic news in 2014-15, it is concerning news for the following year.

This is basically delaying the inevitable for the NY Rangers, but it does give them some breathing room should Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider get very high rewards in arbitration.

Mats Zuccarello (NYR)

Mats Zuccarello (NYR)

Right now, the Rangers may have been able to sign Zuccarello to a 4.5 Million dollar deal for 3 to 5 years. Flash forward to January 1st, where the Rangers can now sign a longterm deal. Let’s assume Mats Zuccarello has about 35-40 points and either leads the team in scoring or is top 3. That 4.5 million is now off the table and he will be asking for 5M plus. That’s the good news scenario.

Let’s go the opposite direction and say Zuccarello is struggling with 15 points. The Rangers will low ball him and Mats with balk. If he struggles all year or gets injured, he will still want his 4.5 at the very least. This is a recipe for disaster and Zucc could see unrestricted free agency next July.

This is the PK Subban situation on a smaller scale. The scenario where a penny smart can become a dollar dumb. FTHN Magazine did a great write up of that situation here.

Bottom line, this helps the Rangers today, but can backfire on them tomorrow. Let’s just hope everybody wins in the end.

PROUD TO BE A RANGER 7/24/14

Mats Zuccarello is the epitome of a fan favorite. His heart and dedication to the team is a shining example of what we want our all our athletes to be today.

Zucc upon signing his contract sent out a picture to his Instagram followers. The caption to this photo read: Proud to be a nyr for at least one more year!! LGR!

Not to worry fans, the intentions for both parties is to sign a longterm deal on as soon as they are allowed to on January 1st, 2015. Zuccarello explained to Norwegian paper VG, “I am very happy to play on the Rangers. I feel it is my club and hope we get a good year.”

Norwegian hockey expert, Ole Eskild Dahlstrøm told VG, Mats love(s) to play hockey and will surely agree on a new and longer contract before the season is over.”

So there you have it folks, Mats Zuccarello is back with the team he loves, and we are happy to have him.

CLOUDY FUTURE 1/21/15

Here we are today, 21 days since the Rangers have been allowed to sign Mats Zuccarello to an extension. So what happens next? Zuccarello and his group are meeting during the All-Star break to either work out an extension or plan for the future.

The Rangers who are under a cap crunch would love to try and work something out, but at this point Zuccarello may have to sacrifice millions for term if he wants to stay. An increase from $3.5M to $4.5M isn’t impossible, say for 4-5 years, but if Zuccarello still believes he’s worth $5-6M his time is likely up.

Hopefully, both sides can work this out because Mats Zuccarello is an integral part of this team. A look back at the past may be able to pave the road to a bright future.

 

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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