The New York Rangers addressed two of their four restricted free agents this week, signing Mats Zuccarello to a new deal yesterday and Chris Kreider today. The moves are important for a few reasons; above all, the Rangers need both of these players back next season. Besides the fact that both are key components to the team, the Rangers also avoided arbitration for the two forwards.
Each were scheduled to have arbitration hearings today, but Zuccarello signed a one-year deal yesterday and Kreider received a two-year deal today. Avoiding arbitration is important, mostly because the Rangers still have some players to sign this offseason and they can ensure they have enough money for everyone by avoiding these hearings. If an arbitrator ruled for New York to pay more than they wanted or planned, that could endanger other plans that the front office may have for the future.
Ranger fans are probably wishing the team inked Zuccarello for more than one year, but at least they can rejoice knowing he’s returning. After avoiding hearings for Zuccarello and Kreider, it definitely begs the question: Will center Derick Brassard be next?
Brassard is also eligible for arbitration and has a hearing set for this Monday, July 28. It seems that the Rangers want Brassard to return, and as their roster stands right now they need him to. Don’t be surprised if they get a deal done in the next three or four days to avoid another arbitration hearing. The Rangers need Brassard considering their lack of depth at the center position.
Aside from the money and litigation, the Rangers got the job done and signed two players who make huge impacts on the game on a consistent basis. Despite the specifics of the signings, Ranger fans have to be happy that these guys are inked and ready to focus on helping the team.