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The cost of locking up Del Zotto

June 18, 2012, by

In keeping up with the offseason trend of articles here at BSB, we wanted to take some time to discuss locking up perhaps the most important free agents on the market, our own. Michael Del Zotto finished up his entry-level deal this season, which was a three year deal at just under $1.1M per season. This summer the 21 year old is a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights.

Obviously MDZ rebounded to have a great third season in the pros, scoring 10 goals and 41 points after a subpar sophomore outing. Clearly he still needs to improve defensively, but even that aspect of his game took a step forward this past season. This season Torts gave Michael a lot of rope and used him in all game situations.

So what will Del Zotto’s next deal look like?

In terms of length, it seems to be Sather’s MO to only give two or three year deals to Rangers seeking their second NHL contract. Anisimov, Callahan, Dubinsky, Girardi, Sauer, and even Tyutin were all resigned to two year deals coming off their respective entry-level contracts. Only Staal received a 5 year contract, but he was one of the best defensive defensemen in the league at the time of the deal.

I know a few people also think because Luke Schenn (Toronto) got a five year deal worth $3.6M per season, MDZ could conceivably receive the same. Schenn signed his deal coming off a season where he put up 5 goals and 22 points. However, nothing Brian Burke does makes a lot of sense and Schenn’s contract was an over payment in my opinion. I doubt Sather will use other contracts handed out to other offensive defensemen as a real barometer of what to pay MDZ, since he doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage.

In the end, I think Del Zotto gets two or three year deal worth $2.5-$3M per year. Had he been able to get in front of an arbitrator this summer, MDZ probably could have tried to squeeze more money or years out of Sather. Alas, the CBA is what it is for the time being and I expect Sather to lock him up sooner rather than later.

Categories : Analysis, Offseason


  1. Bobby says:

    I’d say that’s a fair guess. I would be pretty surprised/somewhat upset if MDZ got over $3m.

    • Dave says:

      I honestly think $2.5 million is a bit high, only because of his awful sophomore season. I think he gets around $2-$2.5 million. Slats doesn’t like to give a lot of money to his first time RFAs.

  2. Zen says:

    If DZ is even here in a couple weeks, I expect this negotiation to be a tough one. My guess is that the organization will play some major hardball with DZ after his meltdown in the NJ series, despite his nice regular season stats. There almost certainly will be a LARGE difference of opinion of his worth.

    • MBN says:

      I respectfully disagree. His problems in the NJ series will have little impact on his next contract. His overall season was very good, and he did pick it up defensively, although he is not where you would like him to be, at this time. Given his age, I think that aspect of his game will improve.

      • The Suit says:

        Well said MBN, and I think it is highly unlikely MDZ gets moved this summer. The Rangers have some depth problems on defense. To move one of the better offensive defensemen who is still producing at a discount wouldn’t make much sense to me.

      • Dave says:

        Well said. He’s just 22 years old, he’s expected to have some meltdowns. It comes with the territory of kids.

    • Ray says:

      To be fair to Del Zotto, he had the toughest role of any of our defenseman. Until Staal came back, he was exclusively a left D-man. In the playoffs, he was on the left half the time, on the right half the time (or more) — back and forth, sometimes with Staal, sometimes Stralman, sometimes with Bickel. A lot to ask of a kid. Compare with the neatly defined role McDonagh had – always on the left, his natural side, almost always with Girardi. I’m not saying MDZ is as good as McDonagh, but comparing their relative performances is comparing apples to oranges.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    2 year 2 million. one way contract, no ahl sendowns etc. That should get er done. The length should be whatever it is till he turns UFA.

  4. AD says:

    I’d bet the farm MDZ does not get $3mm/yr or higher. Look for Sather to try and pay NO MORE than $2.5mm/yr. One factor to consider in all this is McDonagh is a RFA next season; signing MDZ to a high # this year automatically sets the floor for McDonagh next season, and I just don’t think management views MDZ to be in the same realm as Staal, Girardi and McDonagh (all of which will playing with a $3mm+ handle next year or soon thereafter). Finally, MDZ’s inconsistencies are a factor — I am sure Sather does not believe Dubinsky gave the club good value this year, the first after getting a nice contract. I would trade MDZ befoe giving him over $3mm/season — at his best, he is an ok defenseman with good offensive skills.

    • The Suit says:

      I agree that MDZ isn’t yet in the same realm as Staal or McD, but by no means should the Rangers trade MDZ at this point.

      The Rangers are not very deep on defense. We lack a legitimate bottom pairing. Dealing MDZ, especially for the rumored forwards available, weakens this club if we have only three roster defensemen. Too many spots to fill.

  5. Tim B says:

    I hope its a reasonable price. I want him locked up for a long time but i doubt that will happen.

  6. Section 121 says:

    Is $3m a year reasonable if the term is 5 + years?

  7. Rangers407 says:

    2 years at 2.5 mm sounds good to me. He has offensive skills we lack on defense. And his defense and physical play got better as the season progressed. He’s still a young kid with a bright future ahead of him. I hope its is with the Rangers.

  8. howiehockey says:

    MDZ gets a 2 yr 1.9 mill which is more than a 50% raise