NHL Rumors: Will the New York Rangers Keep RFA Michael Del Zotto?

The New York Rangers continue to work on signing Michael Del Zotto, but the restricted free agent is still without a legitimate contract after being tendered a qualifying offer over a month ago.  Earlier this month, both sides were optimistic that a deal would get done.  With the Rick Nash dramatics finally over, Michael Del Zotto could be the next big priority for the Rangers – and he’s earned it after recovering from his sophomore struggles to lead Rangers defensemen with 41 points.  The Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross expects he’ll be signed for 1.75 million dollars for three years, but he deserves much more.

Though it is particularly uncommon for restricted free agents to receive offer sheets, Michael Del Zotto may be an ideal candidate for a deal from someone other than the New York Rangers.  The value of defensemen on the open market appears to be at an all-time high.  Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were offered monster deals this offseason.  After the Philadelphia Flyers missed out on both Weber and Suter, Michael Del Zotto could be a budget-friendly fit.  If the Rangers continue to stall negotiations, the rest of the hockey world could grow interested.

Michael Del Zotto appears to want to stay with the New York Rangers, but the numbers being floated as “fair deals” seem to drastically undervalue the 22 year old.  Del Zotto’s 41 points last season were eight points shy of Shea Weber’s 49, with Michael Del Zotto actually posting one more assist on the offensively-challenged Rangers.  While offense obviously isn’t everything for a defenseman, Del Zotto’s +20 differential proves his value on both ends of the ice.  He’s no Shea Weber, but he’s certainly worth more than 1.75 million as Andrew Gross optimistically suggested in the Bergen Record.  If the New York Rangers sign Del Zotto for less than 2.75 million, it’s a steal.

With that said, if someone were to stray from the unwritten RFA rules of etiquette in the modern NHL, Michael Del Zotto is an ideal candidate to reach for.  There are far worse players to sign to moderately expensive deals – see the New Jersey Devils’ ten mediocre defensemen for a perfect example.  The market price for defense is extremely high this offseason, suggesting this is no time to be cheap with a promising young defenseman like Michael Del Zotto.

P.K. Subban is also available as a restricted free agent, but the 23-year-old will likely carry a tremendous price.  Any reasonable contract offer will be matched by the Montreal Canadiens.  Michael Del Zotto, comparatively, is the last reasonably-priced young defenseman “available” as a restricted free agent.  Would the New York Rangers pay Del Zotto, say, four million dollars per year?

Maybe the New York Rangers are a bit gun shy after the disappointing season former-Ranger Brandon Dubinsky had last year. After all, Del Zotto struggled mightily two seasons ago.  However, after posting solid numbers again as part of the strong defensive corps in front of Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Del Zotto deserves a decent contract.   A three-year deal worth a total of around nine million dollars sounds appropriate – before someone offers Michael Del Zotto something less reasonable and more expensive.  A deal is likely imminent, and it will be interesting to see what Del Zotto is willing to accept in order to stay with the Blueshirts.  The New York Rangers have plenty of cap space and it’s hard to imagine Del Zotto playing anywhere else – or even receiving an offer to.

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  • patrick

    he’s no Shea Weber, but he’s certainly worth more than 1.75 million as Andrew Gross optimistically suggested in the Bergen Record. If the New York Rangers sign Del Zotto for less than 2.75 million, it’s a steal.
    okay mr author of this article. if the rangers pay 2.75 million for delzotto they over paided. hes terrible and would be a 5th or 6th d man on the team when sauer returns to the lineup. he hasnt been offered a big deal because hes not worth the money and sather knows it. delzotto was a minus player for the second half of the season and was by far the worst d man on the team in the post season. he went from a plus 4 to a minus 4 in a matter of 2-1/2 games thats pathedic and a big giant reason hes not being offered money. with the flyers in need of a shutdown d man who can play shutdown mins delzotto doesnt make sense once again i must say delzotto is one of the worst defenders in the league in his endzone. hes a horrible pp qb absolutely horrible. hes a horrible first passer always gets picked off never comes out of te corner with the puck plays the puyck when he should paly the man hes slow can trasition to back skating at all. for all these reasons above and for the other reasons that i havent listed is why no teams showing interest in delzotto and the rangers wont offer him money when they know hes a bottom pair d man at best. his stats are inflated becuase of gaboriks brilliance and if the rangers where smart they would move him for yandle with some prospects and draft picks. let other teams over pay for him becuase sather wont.

  • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

    I think the Rangers are spoiled with a tremendous surplus of defensive talent. He’s a six here, but a top-four on most teams in the NHL. When looking at the rest of the league, the salaries that offensive talents like Del Zotto command are much higher. If Sather won’t overpay, someone should. Despite his shortcomings, he is young and has scoring ability. That’s worth something… look at the contracts of Schenn or even a guy like ZIdlicky… Del Zotto is worth more than 1.75 million.

    • patrick

      no hes not schenn is 100 times the defencemen that delzotto is.. and what offensive upside hes a horrible pp player he cant hit the net to save his life 1.75 is right on the money for him. hes not worht a penny more and i think sather and the rest of the league knows it thats why there not banging his door down with offer sheets. his stats are inflated due to gaboriks great season and the addition of richards and callys 29 goal season. i ask you this what did he do on the pp besides make it one of the worst in the league? and delzottos performance in the playoffs was the worst i have ever seen from a defender hes not worth the ink on his contract

  • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

    41 points and a +20 is worth money in the NHL. More than 1.75 million. If he was so awful why are the Rangers playing him 23 minutes a night?

    • patrick

      good quesiton why wuld they play him 23 mins first off his plus minus means absolutely nothign. as for his time on ice they had no other choice. staal was hurt first half of the seaosn and sauer was hurt second half they had no confidence in eminger for he got hurt aswell and woywitka they sat for months so theres your answer lack of options forced delzotto into his mins. he was a minus player the second half of the year and in the playoffs. his horrible defensive play is the major reason rangers didnt make it past the devils delzottos mistakes lead directly to goals. you wont win this argument sir. delzotto is trash hes a garbage player. injurys force coaches to play players in different situations that they normaly woldnt be in.

      • patrick

        also if sauer wasnt hurt i can almost guarentee delzotto wouldnt of played more then 12 mins a night 15 at most

  • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

    23 is a bit of a stretch… 18 minutes, sure, maybe that’s solely a product of injuries… playing 23 minutes a game as a second pairing guy due to injuries is still a ton of minutes over the course of a full season. I have to disagree.

    • patrick

      yes it is alot of mins. and it was mins that the rangers coaching staff wish they never had to do. delzotto is a defensive liability. with minimal offence. you talk about his plus minus well his let me ask you this how many times has the king had to bail out delzotto with a save because he made some stupid move with the puck or played the wrong guy. the answer is ever time. hank and gaborik are the reasons delzottos stats are inflated. bottom line is the rangers will never win a cup with delzotto in there lineup getting mins.

  • http://www.thefastertimes.com/hockey markdonatiello

    I still say with Meszaros out the Flyers should offer him 2.5-3 and try to poach him for almost nothing. Force the action… if Sather won’t overpay, the Flyers are pretty desperate for halfway capable defensemen… win/win.