Michael Del Zotto, a restricted free agent, remains unsigned. With the Rangers defensive depth behind Steve Eminger a bit of a question, and with Mike Sauer's concussion status still up in the air, there is a bit of an imperative to get Del Zotto back in the fold.
The Rangers have, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, offered the defenseman a "multi-year" deal worth between $2.2 and $2.5 million per year. That's a nice upgrade over his previous salary of $962,500.
Del Zotto had a good year last year, scoring 10 goals and putting up 31 assists. It was a definite bounce-back after his rough 2010-2011, which saw him demoted to the minors.
Del Zotto did struggle against the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals; he was responsible for a few back-breaking goals. Still, a few bad games can't overshadow the fact that he was a steady, dependable defenseman for the majority of the year.
We know what Del Zotto is. He's an offensive-minded defenseman, who is skilled at leading the rush, and can make some gorgeous passes. He's not the best in his own zone, but he's not terrible, and he's becoming more physical and responsible. What's he worth?
Let's take a look at some comparable players, both in age and in skill.
So the pre-lockout market seems to be between $4 and $5 million. Even if we assume that post-lockout contracts will be less, the $2.5 million offered by the Rangers does seem to be a bit low.
The Rangers do have some leverage, seeing that Del Zotto is a restricted free agent, and no one was really knocking on the door. They also have to sign Ryan McDonagh, a free agent after this season, and who is a much better player.
And of course, part of the offer by the Rangers is posturing.
So, what's it going to take? I don't believe that he's worth $5 million—then again, I don't believe that Keith Yandle is worth that kind of money.
Dan Girardi's deal is worth $3.325 million. Girardi is a better player, but he is older, and his reckless style of play makes him liable to injury.
Marc Staal's deal is worth $4 million per year. Certainly, we can agree that Staal is better than Del Zotto.
That's why a deal modeled after Kris Letang's is reasonable. Letang's deal pays him $14 million over four years, an annual average of $3.5 million.
It's a bit below market value, but that's to be expected given the lockout. It's not unreasonable at all, and is quite an upgrade.
Will the Rangers make that offer? Hard to say. But it might be worth it for both parties to explore it.
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