The New York Rangers need to start taking notes. The Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers recently gave big contract extensions to their young stars, and the Rangers should do the same in the next two days.
Michael Del Zotto still hasn't signed his two- or three-year deal, and if general manager Glen Sather was smart, he'd give him a bigger offer in terms of years. Besides Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Michael Sauer will all be restricted free agents next season, but shouldn't even get to that point.
With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire on Sept. 15, the Rangers have three days (counting today) to get these guys–most notably McDonagh–signed to long-term deals. Why? you ask, because the new proposed CBA has many restrictions on player contracts.
It's been no secret the owners are looking to lower the next salary cap, but they are also looking to limit the years on player contracts. No more 17-year deals like that of Ilya Kovalchuck, or 12-year deals like the one Sidney Crosby signed a few months ago. However, a deal like this can still be signed for the next few days.
The current proposal has a five-year cap and no signing bonuses on any new contract signed. Surprisingly enough, that falls right into what Sather has done in the past. Sather is reluctant to hand out long-term deals, especially to home-grown talent.
Only Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Stall received deals of at least five years recently, and that includes team captain Ryan Callahan who was signed to just three years. If Sather doesn't change his ways for everyone, he at least should for McDonagh. Signing McDonagh to a long-term deal will pay greater dividends for New York than the Scott Gomez signing ever did.
He's a shutdown defender in this league, something that isn't easily found in the NHL. Think of it this way, when the Rangers play the Edmonton Oilers, they want McDonagh on the ice to shut down Taylor Hall (seven-year deal); when they play Pittsburgh, he's on the ice to stop Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin. The moral of the story, McDonagh is always matched up vs. the opposition's best offensive player.
He is in the Rangers' plans for at least the next decade, and they should made sure he goes nowhere. Although teams feel it's only necessary to break the bank for offense, McDonagh should be looking at a deal in the neighborhood of what Edmonton just signed Hall (seven-years, $42 million).
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