|(New York Rangers)|
Really there has never really been any doubt that the Rangers were going to qualify Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman and Mats Zucarello; but the Rangers are not required to extend qualifying offers until June 25 according to the NHL/NHLPA collective-bargaining agreement (article 10.2 pages 30-31 stick tap to CapGeek.com).
No offense to anybody but I think we have a case of jumping the gun here and it's really not a big thing. But what is the thing is understanding what the New York Rangers need to do in order to keep the right of first refusal/draft pick compensation for these free agents as there has been several differing amounts/statuses making things rather confusing.
Another area that needs to be mentioned is whether or not an offer needs to be a one way or two way offer. It is the difference in this offer status that I believe is the main reason why Mats Zucarrello is heading to the KHL.
At the NHL level, it would seem foolish for Michael Del Zotto to turn down his qualifying offer. According to CapGeek.com, the Rangers are required to offer Del Zotto a qualifying offer of 826,875.
According to CapGeek the offer is based on:
Because his base salary of $787,500 — total salary of $875,000 minus signing bonus of $87,500 — is greater than $660,000 and less than $1,000,000, it is increased by 5 percent for the purposes of his qualifying offer.
Now question number two is does Michael Del Zotto qualify for a one-way or two-way contract? I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not a contract specialist but my own understanding is Michael Del Zotto has to be offered a one-way contract.
This is based upon Article 10.2 (iii)
It must be a one-way qualifying offer if a) the player appeared in 180 or more NHL games in three previous seasons; b) the player appeared in 60 or more NHL games the previous season; and c) the player did not clear waivers during the previous season.
Del Zotto has appeared in 204 NHL games over the last three years, 77 last season and while he has not been exposed to waivers; Del Zotto is no longer exempt from waivers.
Now the another area of interest here will be Article 12.1 which defines whether or not a player is eligible for salary arbitration. In Del Zotto's case, he is not eligible to file for salary arbitration because he only has three years of professional experience rather than the four required for player who signs his first standard players contract between the ages of 18-20.
Del Zotto has almost no leverage and considering that he knows given the Rangers history that he has a good season he will be rewarded for it. I would urge him to accept the qualifying offer because of that as well as knowing that he is the Rangers best offensive weapon on defense.
Be greedy and hold out when you haven't put back-to-back seasons together is a very poor business decision. Considering who Del Zotto's agent is (Bobby Orr) then it is doubtful that Del Zotto would reject the qualifying offer because he knows a good year will lead to a much better payday.
The second Ranger on the list is Anton Stralman who again going back to CapGeek is due for a qualifying offer of 945,000. Stralman qualifies for a one-way offer as well and could file for salary arbitration if if he chose to.
The Rangers would be wiser to make a qualifying offer to protect their rights but to sit down with Stralman and make it worth his while to stay a Ranger. To sign with the Rangers for the past season, Stralman took over a $1 million pay cut after being set free by Columbus.
Now if you're the Rangers you know that Stralman struggled in the first half of the season but played decently in the second half and was one of the Rangers better defenders during the playoffs. If you think Tim Erixon is NHL ready then you might consider gambling here.
If it's me, I make a qualifying offer to Stralman just to make sure I protect his NHL rights but I would also sit down with him and talk to him about maybe a two-year deal as an insurance policy. The Rangers don't want Stralman to file for arbitration because they may be in a position of a one year deal that they may not like.
Stralman says he wants what is best for his family and you can't blame him. Offer him a two-year deal where you reward him for his playoff by making the first year base salary 1.25 million with an opportunity to earn performance bonuses to add an extra 500,000 to the salary.
Second year 1.5 million with bonus opportunities of 500,000 again. If Tim Erixon is NHL ready then you have a proven NHL player with a good salary cap hit that another team could always use.
The third player eligible for restricted free agency is Mats Zucarrello and it doesn't matter what the Rangers offer him, Zucarrello will not accept it. We can save the debate on how Zucarrello was treated by the Rangers for the summer since there is almost no chance that Zucarrello will accept any NHL offer at this point in time.
Forget what salary cap hit that Zucarrello had as he never came close to making any of that salary because of the time spent in the AHL. Zucarrello's qualifying offer is 850,500 and odds are that because he doesn't have enough time in service that it would be a two-way contract.
It's understandable that Zucarrello is not going to risk that he will wind up back in the AHL next season. Pretty sure if any of us were in his position that we would take the sure money offered by the KHL.
Zucarrello from all accounts was a likable guy and a good teammate; it's a shame that things didn't work out for him with the Rangers but that's the business side of hockey.
Something else that should be made aware of is that while qualifying offers must be made by June 25, they cannot be accepted until July 1. It'll be interesting to see if the Rangers are able to keep Anton Stralman as I think the Rangers really do need him to return as he was a much better option over Steve Emminger and the others.
It will also be interesting to see who on the CT Whale that the Rangers will qualify as there are 8 restricted free agents. I would at most qualify Cam Talbot and Casey Wellman.
Still you are not offering six players contracts (two have already signed to play in Europe) and you have another six who are unrestricted free agents. It's part of the reason why I believe the Rangers might not get as much help from the minor leagues next season as they are going to have several first year players.
Back to house hunting.