The New York Rangers have Mats Zuccarello still in the latter stages of the prime of his career. What they decide to do with him now remains unknown. However, for purposes of this article, let’s focus on what an extension would look like if they choose that path.
Before we analyze what an extension would look like, there are a few things to know about Zuccarello. The last contract the New York Rangers gave him was March of 2015. It was an $18M contract over four years, the last being this next season.
$4.5M per year for Zuccarello has been a reasonable price for his play and everything he’s brought to the locker room and fans. But going forward, can the Rangers expect to offer the same price or at least something similar?
Now, for purposes of making sure my Zucc-tinted glasses aren’t on, let’s take a brief look at what Zuccarello has done over the past four years in terms of stats.
Why Four Years, $18M Was a Solid Contract
In the 2015-16 season, Zuccarello posted 26 goals and added 35 assists for 61 points in 81 games. This was back in the days of Derrick Brassard as his consistent (for the most part) center.
After getting used to Zibanejad (who suffered a serious leg injury), he still managed 15 goals and 44 assists for 59 points in 80 games in the 16-17 season. Zuccarello was forced to take on a heavy load and proved to be more than capable of doing so.
In the most recent season, he posted 16 goals and 37 assists for 53 points in 80 games. While that was his lowest in a while, he also was required to step up with numerous injuries and a team that was worse than they had been in many years.
What a New Contract Should Look Like
Five out of the last four seasons, Zuccarello has consistently posted 50+ points (one season was 49 points). He has character in the locker room and is unarguably a fan favorite. He’s also been around long enough to have a solid amount of playoff experience while not being categorized as an “older” player.
His ability to create chemistry on every line he’s put on allows for the coach to have options with line changes. And perhaps most importantly, he gives 100% every night.
A solid contract shouldn’t be for too long, considering his age. The lowest offer in terms of years should be two. In terms of price, $4M is the least they could do (again, simply because of his age).
A mid range contract should be about three years at the same $4.5M, if only to keep things consistent. And lastly, the biggest contract they could give is a contract of four years worth $4.6M-$5M.
Anything below $4M is unreasonable for all his hard work. However, anything over $5M is too much for a 31 year old whose team is going through a rebuild. They can’t be sure how the new look and coach will affect his play.
An important point to remember is that Zuccarello definitely has trade value. But it is in the best interest of the Rangers to keep him around for everything he does for them.