While the NHL and NHLPA are in a CBA dispute that will jeopardize the 2012-13 season, the New York Rangers have some "disputes" themselves that they are dealing with in their own camp. Number one on the list is concerning Group II restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto. The 22-year-old defenseman, who recorded ten goals and 41 points in 77 games last season, is still without a contract for the future, and according to Larry Brooks in The Post, the Rangers and Del Zotto are not close to striking a deal just yet.
It is believed that the Blueshirts are offering a multi-year contract to Del Zotto, somewhere between $2.2 million to $2.5 million per year, which is a hefty price when you consider his contributions over the past three seasons. Yes, he emerged offensively in 2011-12, improving from that standpoint, but his defensive abilities continue to be subpar. And if a deal has not been made yet, that obviously states that Del Zotto is seeking slightly more cash than what is being thrown his way. That or he wants a long-term contract, but again, the Rangers' offer is believed to be a multi-year deal.
But even from that point of view, the Rangers cannot be completely certain that Del Zotto is going to grow into the player they had hoped for when they drafted him in 2008. As general manager, I too would be cautious to give DZ anything more than 2-3 years in his new contract.
It sounds to me that Del Zotto may be overvaluing himself here, which wouldn't come as a surprise at all since he allegedly had quite the departing argument with head coach John Tortorella when he was assigned to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL in 2010 for lackluster play. It's unclear who or what is pumping his tires, exactly, but he should take a look at some of the highlights lowlights from last season in which defensive gaffs by himself resulted in goals against.
Staying on the topic of defensemen, a name came up in Brooks' column today that we haven't heard in a while now: Michael Sauer. Sauer, remember, was concussed by Dion Phaneuf in early December of last season and was never able to return to the lineup since. While he's shown signs of improvement since that time, he is yet to be symptom free, which you all probably know by now means no physical activity for any concussed athlete.
According to Brooks, the Rangers have insufficient optimism that Sauer will somehow be ready to play at some point next season, but there's not all that much to back that optimism up at the moment.
He also shared this tidbit of information that makes the situation even more complex and interesting....
The 25-year-old defenseman’s older brother, Craig, has suffered from depression after sustaining multiple concussions while playing six years in the NFL for the Falcons and Vikings.
Even more the reason for Sauer to be extremely cautious with his (possible) return.