Let’s Make A Deal: What Is Mats Zuccarello Really Worth?
“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.”
Show Me The Money!
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.
So much for not trying to “maximize” your salary.
Is He Really Worth It?
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.
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.
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.
Get It Done
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.