With his July 31 arbitration date less than a week away, there has been little visible progress between Zuccarello and the Rangers on a new contract. If the two sides see Zuccarello’s value with widely diverging views, they could go to a hearing, though doing so isn’t “in” right now. No player this summer has gone all the way to a hearing. None of the eleven players that filed for arbitration last summer actually went through with a hearing, either, including the Rangers own Anton Stralman.
The Rangers and Zuccarello would have to submit their briefs and salary requests by Monday. The arbitrator considers both sides requests, but can decide on any value. This differs from the MLB’s system, where the arbitrator will decide on one party’s salary request. The Rangers will decide whether they want a one-or-two year award.
Every week or so, there seems to be an encouraging report coming out of Norway, with Zuccarello saying the gap isn’t too much, or he’s not asking for a certain amount. Last week, Brooks reported that Zuccarello is asking for between $1.5 and $2 million, with the Rangers looking for significantly less, presumably in the low one point something millions.
If Zuccarello is given an award the Rangers don’t like, the Rangers have few methods of recourse. They can’t walk away from any award less than $3.5 million, which Zuccarello’s surely wouldn’t be. They would have to find a trade partner, or buy-him out. The latter is unappealing for a team that needs to be cap-space economical as the Rangers do. Say Zuccarello was awarded $1.7 million on a one year deal and the Rangers wished to buy him out, it would cost them a $283,333 cap charge for two seasons. Not going to break them, but it’s obviously not ideal for a player not playing for them.
Whatever path the negotiations go down, at least we know they will come to a conclusion within the next week.