New York Rangers: 4 Players They Need to Re-Sign This Offseason
The disappointing overtime loss in Game 6 to the New Jersey Devils prematurely started the Rangers' offseason. Just like the 2012 playoff run, this summer will be full of drama as the Blueshirts try to build a team that can get them to the next level.
Before free agency and the draft, the Rangers will need to protect their own and hold on to a few players that will be vital to a successful campaign in 2012-13. Here are four players the Rangers would be crazy not to bring back next season.
Michael Del Zotto
Michael Del Zotto is a restricted free agent after this season. Del Zotto played well as a rookie in 2009-10 and was named to the All-Rookie team. He started the next season with the AHL's Connecticuit Whale, but in his second full season in 2011-12, Del Zotto became a major contributor to New York's success. The 21-year-old led Rangers defenders in points, goals and assists. His 41 points were also fifth on the team.
Brandon Prust may have led the team in penalty minutes with 156, but he is establishing himself as a physical presence in the tough Atlantic Division. Prust's hard play and tough attitude have given him an important role for the Blueshirts, but he is not solely an enforcer. The 28-year-old forward had 17 points in 2011-12 and recorded two shorthanded goals to prove he is not just a tough guy.
Backup goaltender Martin Biron was key to New York's success in 2011-12. Starter Henrik Lundqvist had his best season since joining the Rangers in 2005. His contention for the Hart Trophy can be partially attributed to Biron. In his first five years as the full-time starter, Lundqvist played an average of 71 games.
This season, Biron stepped up in a big way for the Rangers. Having Biron as the backup allows Rangers coach John Tortorella to rest Lundqvist, but still give New York a chance to win. In his 20 starts this season, Biron was 12-6 with a .904 save percentage. More importantly, Lundqvist only had to start 62 games, keeping him fresh and allowing him to be the top goaltender in the league.
In the day after the Rangers elimination, from the playoffs, reports swirled that the promising forward had signed a contract with the KHL. But Zuccarello was quick to dismiss the reports as false on Twitter.
Still, the young Norwegian is a restricted free agent the Rangers need to re-sign. Zuccarello didn't play much in the NHL this season, but showed promise with his ability to make plays and his skills in shootouts in 2010-11. In 52 total games spanning two seasons in the NHL, Zuccarello has recorded 26 points, including eight goals. In his time with the Whale this year, he also recorded 36 points in 37 games.