This offseason has been a fairly good one for the Rangers. Yes the team lost some guys but they also gained others, especially in areas they needed it. Today the NHL Website looked at the Rangers for their 30-in-30 series. One of the articles put together a guess of the forward lines with the note that they will change from game to game and period to period. There wasn’t, however, a separate article on the defense as those pairings are expected to say relatively the same unless Sauer becomes healthy. We have:
We still need a 7th d-man but otherwise….wait a second. Are all those guys signed? Why when I go to CapGeek is there a big red box that says RFA next to Del Zotto. Oh. Ummm…Sather, we have a problem.
Michael Del Zotto is a restricted free agent which means unless he signs an offer sheet, he’s going to be a Ranger. The problem is until he puts his name on a contract, he can’t step foot on the ice with the team. Unfortunately for Del Zotto, he wasn’t eligible to elect arbitration which means he has no leverage in these negotiations. It’s one of the reasons the Rangers are probably taking their time signing the young defenseman. This isn’t the first time they have done that (see the contract negotiations for Dubinsky and Staal after their entry-level deals) and probably won’t be the last.
That said, it’s almost the middle of August and while the season may not start on time, Del Zotto still needs a contract for when it does. I know some fans haven’t warmed up to DZ just yet, but the Rangers need him. In one of the articles as part of the 30-in-30 series, Matt Cubeta in mentioning fantasy options on the Rangers threw out this gem:
Under-valued: Michael Del Zotto - Most offensive-minded defenseman on team gets overlooked with Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal on the blue line, but Del Zotto had 10 goals and 41 points last season with a plus-20 rating while quarterbacking the power play.
Say whatever you want, the team needs those points in the line-up.
The good news is there hasn’t been anything in the media about the negotiations other than both sides saying “it will get done”. As much as I, and many other Rangers fans, would love to know what is holding it up, I’m glad this has stayed out of the press. I don’t need to know the team is low-balling one of their top four defensemen or that Michael is asking for twice as much money as he deserves. I just need to know when it gets done and as someone who’s supported Del Zotto for three seasons, I would like that to be sooner rather than later. It’s not as if the team has a bunch of other options waiting in the wings. Honestly don’t think I’m asking to much for the Rangers to have six defensemen under contract for next season, I am?