Rangers benefiting from good value contractsMarch 14, 2016, by
Give good players time and you will be rewarded. Mats Zuccarello had to fight off traditional hockey stereotypes, climb up the Rangers cluttered depth chart and fight his way into a prominent position over a long period of time but Zuccarello eventually became one of the Rangers most reliable and cost effective players. Zuccarello’s contract is looking better every game and it’s worth looking into the value again because right now, there are few better value deals around the league.
Zuccarello is likely going to lead the Rangers in scoring for the second time in three years by season’s end. Over the past three years (going on numbers after the loss to the Red Wings) Zuccarello is averaging around 54 points per season and this is with 14 games of the current season to go.
Zuccarello is of course, in the first year of his new deal that pays him 4.5m per season. Prior to this season Zuccarello had bagged 142 points in 222 regular season games for an average of .63 points/game. This season he’s scoring at a .77 clip; a pretty significant increase.
Zuke’s production is costing the Rangers around $85k per point. Some league wide insight; some of the very best players in the game cost their teams significant more. Patrick Kane is costing the Hawks 118k per point, Alex Ovechkin ‘costs’ the Caps 154k per point while Anze Kopitar is costing the Kings around 115k per point.
Kopitar’s cost (or value) will sky rocket once his new deal kicks in – call it the price of doing business in today’s NHL. No one is comparing Zuke to these world class players and of course, production isn’t based purely on “value for money” but Zuccarello’s value to the Rangers does reflect favourably all over the league when looking at other leading offensive producers.
Zuccarello currently sits a respectable tied 30th in league scoring (at time of writing). Being far too lazy to provide the actual numbers for the 29 (or so) players ‘ahead’ of Zuke, almost every player ahead of him has a bigger contract. At 27, Zuccarello is in his prime and offer the Rangers exceptional value, not bad for a kid from Norway considered too small for the league.
For a team that has looming cap issues and needs to spend every cent wisely, the Rangers have a handful of contracts that represent great value, none more so of course than Zuke and captain Ryan McDonagh. One player that almost always gets forgotten about however is Jesper Fast.
‘Quickie’ has been a loyal foot soldier, playing up and down the line up and handling solid minutes (around fifteen/game). Going almost unnoticed is the fact that Fast is flirting with a 30 point season (currently on 24) all the while costing the Rangers just 950k against the cap charge. He’s on tap for an actual salary of $1m next season.
Fast is another player where the Rangers have been rewarded for their patience. Three full years in the Swedish league, the vast majority of another in the AHL with Hartford; it’s almost six years (already) since the Rangers drafted Fast. While he may never become a consistent top six winger, every team need players like Fast who can play both ends of the rink and can chip in offense from the bottom half of the line-up.
The Rangers are likely in no rush to lock up Fast but if the team can retain Fast on a sensible deal after his bridge deal expires in a year’s time, then they will truly have another bargain depth player the type of which are the hallmark of most successful franchises.
It’s the depth players such as Fast and Oscar Lindberg (and, for the time being JT Miller and his 874k cap charge) that teams need to come to the fore in the cap era. Lindberg is costing the Rangers an almost ridiculously cheap $25k per point this season and if he can average ‘just’ 30 points per season over the course of his two year deal then the Rangers will receive exceptional value for money from Lindberg. Now, about Dan Girardi and Marc Staal’s contracts…
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