The New York Rangers have 15 players who will be without a contract next season, but not each will be re-signed. So goes the business of hockey. However, there are a select group of players such as Anton Stralman and Mats Zuccarello that should be signed to a contract extension as soon as possible.
There could be a huge roster changeover next season if the Rangers fail to win the Stanley Cup, and here is a prioritized list of Rangers that need contract extensions.
Callahan will turn 29 this March.
Ryan Callahan is an important part of the team, but the Rangers need to make sure that he can bounce back from his latest injury before they invest a great deal of money. He is the team captain, and he tries to lead by example while playing physical two-way hockey.
He could earn a lot of money on the open market, and the Rangers need to make sure that they don't get put between a rock and a hard place while trying to re-sign their captain.
Stralman has been a great bargain Blueshirt.
At the start of the 2011-12 season Anton Stralman signed a tryout contract with the New Jersey Devils, but he was ultimately released. He was then signed by the Rangers, and he has been a bargain asset on the blue line.
Stralman has been a solid top-four defender for the Blueshirts, and he could get a significant raise during free agency. The Rangers can't afford to lose him, so for that reason he should be re-signed as soon as possible. He currently makes $1.7 million a year, per Cap Geek, and the Rangers should have no qualms about offering him a $3 million, multi-year deal.
Kreider could contend for the Calder this season.
Chris Kreider is finally starting to actualize his potential, and he has been one of the NHL's top rookies thus far.
Kreider has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 25 games, and he could stand to make a pretty penny during his second contract.
He is going to be a valuable player going forward, and signing him to a contract extension will allow him and the Rangers to avoid a Derek Stepan-like contract holdout.
Zuke has been a great asset for NYR this year.
Mats Zuccarello is currently one of the Rangers' best players, and he has an amazing contract. He has a lowly $1.15 million cap hit, and he has been producing in spades for the Blueshirts. Through 31 games, "Zuke" has 20 points, and he has been a feisty forward that has added grit and tenacity to his game.
Zuccarello could earn a significant raise during arbitration this summer, so it would be wise for Glen Sather to sign him to a two- or three-year deal as soon as possible.