The National Hockey League could come to a halt on Saturday, as the current collective bargaining agreement deal is set to expire with talks not all that close to reaching a new deal. As we approach that date, it also appears as if the New York Rangers are nowhere near reaching a new deal with breakout defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
With many players and teams reaching agreements on long term deals as we draw closer to a likely work stoppage, the Rangers and Del Zotto do not appear even close. As this point, a new deal remains highly unlikely before the September 15 CBA expires, meaning both will take a risk without knowing what a new deal could mean for players and owners.
Del Zotto is still operating under his rookie contract and, while one of the sticking points in current negotiations between the players and owners is limiting potential earning on second NHL contracts, the Rangers seem to be low-balling Del Zotto as of now.
“All I can do is prepare for the start of the season and the rest of the stuff is out of my control,” Del Zotto said. “I understand it’s a business.”
While it may still benefit Del Zotto to get a deal done before the current CBA expires, the Rangers are also taking a bit of a gamble. The 22-year-old restricted free agent posted some solid numbers for New York last season, totaling 10 goals and 31 assists in 77 games. He is durable, and at such a young age, has great potential going forward.
But the Rangers are trying to lock him up with a multi-year contract worth a reported $2.2 million to $2.5 million per season for roughly three or four years. In all likelihood, that just will not get it done. It is widely assumed that New York would have to offer closer to $3 million annually if they are able to reach an agreement prior to Saturday.
But at this point, it is just another negotiation that may come down to the wire, with an agreement unlikely.
Settle in folks. This one could go on for a while.