- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As the NHL and the NHLPA put the finishing touches on a new collective bargaining agreement, the pressure builds for 22-year-old defenseman Michael Del Zotto to reach a deal with the New York Rangers.
The unsigned restricted free agent finds himself in a precarious position as training camp is set to open within the week, but he hopes to reach a deal soon.
"I'm hoping to get something done as soon as possible," Del Zotto told ESPNNewYork.com. "I know my agents and Glen (Sather) are talking and I expect that they'll try to get a deal that's fair to me and the team."
When reached via email, Del Zotto's agent Don Meehan said he planned on speaking with his client Monday and meeting with Rangers general manager Glen Sather afterwards. That meeting is expected to take place Tuesday.
A source told ESPNNewYork.com that Del Zotto was previously seeking a multiyear deal for more than $3 million a year, although it is not immediately clear if that stance has softened given the time-sensitive situation and Del Zotto's lack of leverage.
The talented young blue-liner, who led all Rangers defensemen in scoring last season with 41 points, elected not to sign his qualifying offer this summer and has no arbitration rights. He's also running short on time.
The league has yet to release its critical dates calendar, but it will include a date by which certain players who remain unsigned cannot play.
"It's not a normal circumstance obviously with half the season gone already but it's the same situation as before. We're just trying to get a deal that's fair for both sides," Del Zotto said. "I know I'm ready to play as soon as possible."
Del Zotto played overseas with Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss-A league to stay in shape during the lockout. But the former first-round pick said it was good to be back around his old teammates again.
Asked if his appearance Monday meant he was confident in the two sides' ability to reach a deal, Del Zotto said: "Don't look into it too much, but yeah, I'm hoping something happens sooner than later."