Norwegian ice hockey star Mats “Zucca” Zuccarello Aasen agreed on a new contract with the NHL’s New York Rangers on Tuesday that will triple his salary. The one-year deal was reportedly worth around USD 3.5 million.
The negotiations dragged out because the Rangers had already spent much of their salary budget, reported news bureau NTB. Zuccarello’s agent Erik Ryman had previously told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) they wanted to secure a longer contract because the 26-year-old was still young, had been a key player for the Rangers and was only going to develop further.
The parties finally reached a deal, three days before a scheduled salary arbitration. While it was only a one-year contract, Zuccarello was happy with the NOK 14 million pay rise he scored. “It’s brilliant,” he told online newspaper Nettavisen. “One year was what worked best for both parties right now. I am very happy to be coming back and am looking forward to the start of the season.”
The Rangers had first rights on Zucca this summer, but if they don’t extend his contract the Norwegian will be free to sign with any NHL club next year. The parties said they planned to continue working towards a longer contract, but nothing could be signed before the start of 2015.
Zuccarello has just finished a stellar season with the Rangers, helping the team reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 20 years. The Rangers lost out to the Los Angeles Kings despite Zucca’s best efforts – he scored five goals and notched up eight assists in the playoffs. For the season as a whole, he recorded 19 goals and 40 assists in 77 matches.