With the National Hockey League set to possibly lock out within the next couple of days, teams have begun grabbing a few remaining free agents and signing some of their players to new contract extensions. A few young, promising defensemen still are without contracts.
One of them is New York Rangers blue liner Michael Del Zotto. He is a restricted free agent and has been unable to negotiate a new deal with the Rangers to this point in the summer.
In his third year with the Blueshirts, Del Zotto finally took a step forward and showed that he has the makings of an elite d-man in this league. He was solid both ways, providing over 40 points on offense while playing a nice physical game as well. He still has a ways to go in his defensive play, but was greatly improved in that aspect.
Despite his vast improvement, Del Zotto is still sitting at home without a contract and could very well be without one when the league may head to lockout at the end of this week. Negotiations between Del Zotto and the Rangers haven’t exactly been fruitful.
The years aren’t known, but the Rangers reportedly have offered MDZ $2.5 million at the highest over a few years. I’d expect the term to be no more than five. Three or four seems likely. But to this point, Del Zotto hasn’t been interested. The assumption is that the main sticking point is the money and not the years. Del Zotto wants more and the Rangers aren’t budging. Even general manager Glen Sather said that he hoped Del Zotto would “come to his senses.”
Given where the two sides currently stand, I wouldn’t expect a deal to be reached before Saturday. If a lockout is lifted at some point in the near future, they may be able to throw something together quickly. But for now, it looks like Michael Del Zotto will head into a potential lockout as a restricted free agent.