New York Rangers should consider extending Zuccarello soon

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Mats Zuccarello
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Mats Zuccarello /

The New York Rangers need leaders during this rebuild. Bringing back one of their most beloved leaders past this year would be huge for them going forward.

It took just one trade deadline of being sellers for New York Rangers fans to program their brains into automatically trading all their expiring contracts. The team did this in 2018 by dealing Nick Holden, Rick Nash and Michael Grabner before they all left for nothing without even considering a potential future partnership.

While those made sense, this offseason, the Rangers will most likely have another batch of players to do this with.

It appears that Kevin Hayes is heading towards signing an arbitrator-fought one-year contract that will allow him to be an unrestricted free agent next July 1. Ryan Spooner appears to be heading down that route as well.

The only other roster player of significance who will be heading to unrestricted free agency next July is Mats Zuccarello.

After posting 61 and 59 points in 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively, the diminutive wing only managed to notch 53 points in 2017-18. Lots of folks attributed it to a slight decline — Zuccarello did lack consistency at lots of times — but it could also be attributed to a broken system and environment, with AHL depth pieces taking NHL roster spots because of injuries or trades.

Because of this, folks want to trade Zuccarello off ASAP.

I’m here to tell you that the Rangers are probably better off signing him to a contract extension unless some team offers them a deal that would constitute as an insane offer.

The Norwegian forward will be turning 31 in September, so he has a few years left at the top of his game. The Rangers are also turning into one of the younger teams in the league.

Just like Jeff Gorton said a while ago, the team can’t be just 19 and 20 year olds going forward.

They need some veteran voices in the room, and Zuccarello is one of those voices that can teach them the most, especially considering how many prospects the team has from Europe.

The Rangers are going to have the cap space to extend him to a fair deal rather easily. Zuccarello took the hometown discount last time around, so he’ll probably earn around $5-$5.5 million a year in his new deal. The Rangers could definitely give him that for three years and both sides would probably be very happy.

Zuccarello is the third longest-tenured Ranger on the team behind Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal. His pride for the Blueshirt is the type of thing you want your young players to be influenced by.

An early look at the center depth chart for next season. dark. Next

The Rangers have some time to test his market to see what’s out there, but if it’s nothing that blows their socks off, a contract extension is the best route they could take here.