With restricted free agent Mats Zuccarello‘s arbitration date less than a week away, many New York Rangers fans were starting to feel a little uneasy about the future of the team’s leading point-getter from last year. Well, that question was seemingly answered as Zuccarello and GM Glen Sather were able to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
However, even with said extension, Zuccarello’s future with the Rangers could still very well be in doubt.
While many Rangers fans were hoping for an extension, a friendly salary cap hit, and a long-term deal for Zuccarello, only two of their wishes were answered. Zuccarello’s new contract is worth $3.5 million, but only over one season. So while he did get an extension at a fair price, the fan favorite is only guaranteed to be a Ranger for this upcoming season.
According to various reports, Sather signed Zuccarello for one year at $3.5 because the player wanted more money but also wanted to help the Rangers avoid arbitration. Zuccarello taking less money this season gives the Rangers more cap flexibility, but at the same time makes him an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
Because the Rangers could easily lose Zuccarello next offseason, the plan is supposedly for Sather to sign Zuccarello to a long-term deal after Jan. 1, 2015, which is the earliest Zuccarello can be extended. Then, as the cap goes up in subsequent seasons, Zuccarello can make more money and not hurt the Rangers financially.
The idea sounds great on paper, but until it actually occurs, this one-year deal is still a big risk. If Zuccarello has a bad year this upcoming season, then Sather will not want to give him the extra money he wants, resulting in Zuccarello walking at season’s end. On the other side of the coin, if Zuccarello has a really good year, he may want even more money, resulting in Sather not paying him and letting him walk.
So Zuccarello may have gotten a new contract, but it can only be considered a good deal if Sather follows the reported “plan” and give him a long-term deal.