One day before an arbitration hearing was scheduled, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million contract for the 2013-14 season.
And with that, there will be no arbitration hearings this summer. (The Leafs’ Mark Fraser also signed.)
In 2013, Zuccarello, 25, had three goals and five assists in 15 regular-season games, followed by one goal and six assists in 12 postseason contests.
With Zuccarello’s deal done, attention will now turn to the Rangers’ most important restricted free agent, Derek Stepan.
Stepan, 23, doesn’t have arbitration rights. At last glance (July 17), there was reportedly no progress between the two sides.
From the New York Post:
Absent pressure points (or an unexpected offer sheet), negotiations with Stepan could well go into September and perhaps bleed into training camp.
Depending on the deal they strike with Stepan, the Rangers may need to make a move in order to fit him under the salary cap.
If it’s a so-called “bridge” contract, like the one PK Subban signed (two years, $5.75 million), they should be fine. If it’s a longer-term deal, a roster adjustment would likely be required.