The New York Rangers have had an offseason filled with turnover — losing Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman and Benoit Pouliot while adding Dan Boyle and Tanner Glass — so it had to be comforting to hear that negotiations are going well with last year’s leading scorer, RFA winger Mats Zuccarello.
From the New York Daily News:
Zuccarello’s agent, Craig Oster, reiterated his optimism Wednesday when he told the Daily News that the Newport Sports team had a “good” meeting with Gorton at last weekend’s NHL draft in Philadelphia.
Oster said Zuccarello knows the Rangers have a cap squeeze, the Blueshirts know he’s valuable, and they simply have to find a contract that fits both of their needs.
After the dust settled from the first two days of free agency, New York emerged with around $15 million in cap space to re-sign Zuccarello and fellow RFAs John Moore, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider. While Kreider might be the most important long-term — just 23, the budding power forward had 17 goals last year and finished 10th in Calder voting — Zuccarello is the most pressing concern for the present.
The diminutive Norwegian played a huge role for the Rangers last season and did it on a tidy one-year, $1.5 million deal. He was a consistent producer both in the regular season (59 points in 77 games) and playoffs (13 in 25), all while averaging more than 17 minutes a night. At 26, he’s got plenty of quality years ahead of him and while he and Brassard will miss Pouliot — that line was New York’s best at times last season — it shouldn’t be too overwhelming a departure.
As such, the big question lingers… how much is Zuccarello going to command? Per Norwegian news outlet VG Sporten, Zuccarello is reportedly looking at a four-year pact worth $4-$5 million annually. If accurate, that really puts a dent in New York’s available money for its remaining RFAs.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.