As necessary by the current CBA, the Rangers sent out qualifying offers to their restricted free agents they wanted to keep. Those who received offers (which had to be 105% of the salary they received the previous season, salary not cap hit) were:
* Michael Del Zotto. This was a given. Now the two sides get to start negotiating a contract. Please do not act like Dubinsky during this process Del Zotto. There is no reason for arbitration or a hold out. (Yes I know Dubinsky never made it to arbitration but he came REALLY close.)
* Anton Stralman. This one surprised me a little bit but I guess the Rangers want to keep his rights in case he does decide to stay in the NHL. Either way, I don’t expect him back.
* Mats Zuccarello. This was a formality to make sure they didn’t lose him for nothing if he wanted to stay in or return to the NHL. I would be absolutely shocked if he returned to the Rangers next season (or at any point for that matter).
* Cam Talbot. The goalie of the future for the Rangers. Or backup goalie of the future since Henrik isn’t leaving anytime soon. Either way, he’s the best guy we have after the King so he wasn’t going anywhere.
* Casey Wellman. Guess they liked what they saw after he joined the team in the middle of the season. For those who don’t remember, the Rangers received Wellman from the Wild for Erik Christensen. He may fight for a spot in camp although I would think an injury call-up is more likely.
* Pavel Valentenko. This was another formality as Valentenko has already signed a two-year contract in the KHL. Would’ve been nice to see him make the Rangers this year if only to rub another player in Montreal’s face that they could’ve had. (He was also part of the Gomez deal, or the deal that keeps on giving as many Rangers fans know it as.)
Those who did not receive qualifying offers and are therefore able to sign with any team they want include Andreas Thuresson, Lee Baldwin, Francois Bouchard, Sam Klassen and Chris Chappell. As I’m not very familiar with any of these guys, I’m assuming this isn’t an unexpected development.
Now that the qualifying offers are out of the way, the team can focus on their unrestricted free agents. Speaking of which, only five more days to get Martin Biron under contract. Someone should get on that!