"For what it’s worth, we’re still optimistic there will be a season, if only because it would be so unfathomably foolish to let it slip away."
Jason Brough of nbcsports.com could not have written it any better.
Here's the scenario as it stands right now:
It's day 102 of the NHL Lockout.
Games have been cancelled through January 14th.
A sport on the fringe of America's sports consciousness even when games are being played, is in danger of falling completely off the radar.
And when all the hockey-related ridiculousness (my take on HRR) comes to its inevitable conclusion, one of the end results could be a reduced salary cap.
Of course, the New York Rangers would feel the effects of such a league-wide financial adjustment.
Their roster would undoubtedly undergo some changes.
However, to coincide with Brough's stance on the current work stoppage, it would be "unfathomably foolish" to think that Blueshirts management, led by General Manager Glen Sather, would let the Michael Del Zotto contract talks get ugly.
Granted, #4 is a polarizing figure amongst the inhabitants of Ranger Nation.
But in my opinion, MDZ belongs on the Rangers blueline for the long term.
And here are three key reasons why I believe he'll ultimately sign on the dotted line, without much discord:
He's a big part of the Blueshirts' blueline
Along with Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, Del Zotto is part of one of the best d-man foursomes in the National Hockey League. The Rangers were second in the league in goals-against average in 2012 at 2.22.
Del Zotto was an undeniable part of that.
He's got plenty of point-scoring potential
In 77 regular season games during the 2012 campaign, Del Zotto registered 10 goals, 31 assists and was plus-20—good for 25th in the entire league. In addition, he put up 10 more points in 20 playoff games, including the game and series-winning goal against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
He's not asking for the Moon
Drew Doughty: $7 million
Zach Bogosian: $2.5 million
Alex Pietrangelo: $3,166,666 million
Luke Schenn: $3.6 million
Tyler Myers: $5.5 million
Erik Karlsson: $6.5 million
Jake Gardiner: $1,116,667 million
John Carlson: $3,966,667 million
By using the salaries of these blueliners as a basis for what Del Zotto's contract commitment could be, we can clearly see that he doesn't deserve to be paid in the class of players such as Norris Trophy Winner Karlsson, Stanley Cup winner Doughty or Washington's unflappable Carlson.
We also know he doesn't deserve the millions that the Buffalo Sabres overpaid Myers.
But, he should be closer to Pietrangelo, who outscored Del Zotto by only 10 points in 2012 (51 to 41) and to Schenn, whom MDZ outscored by 19 points that same season (41 to 22).
With all these figures noted, I believe the Rangers can and should go a little higher than their initial $2.5 million per-season offer to Del Zotto.
My take: A three-year deal at $2.75 million per season is right where the MDZ contract should be.
It more than doubles Del Zotto's entry-level agreement. Additionally, it helps the Rangers maintain fiscal responsibility going forward, even if the salary cap goes down a few notches.
The bottom line: both sides get to raise their sticks for a center-ice salute at Madison Square Garden.
Is this an "unfathomably foolish" way to look at the MDZ contract situation?
Let me know your thoughts.