Rangers' Michael Del Zotto re-signs

Updated: January 13, 2013, 11:51 PM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers announced Sunday they have re-signed restricted free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

It's a two-year deal worth $2.55 million per season, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

The team also announced it has signed defenseman Matt Gilroy, a former Ranger who played with Ottawa and Tampa Bay last season.

"Happy I got back before training camp started," Del Zotto said." Didn't want to miss any more time than we have and I'm excited to be back."

Del Zotto, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2008, re-signed before the team opened its training camp on Sunday.

As a restricted free agent, he had declined to sign a qualifying offer and had no arbitration rights, giving him little leverage in negotiations. A source told ESPNNewYork.com that Del Zotto had a physical Sunday, and he practiced with the team. He wasn't nervous that the two sides would be able to come to an agreement before the Rangers had their first practice.

"Both sides, once we first talked, said we wanted to get something done as soon as possible, we didn't want to miss any more time than the lockout has done," Del Zotto said. "I wasn't worried at all, it was a matter of timing and I'm glad it worked out the way it did."

The 22-year-old is coming off the finest season of his young career. He led the team's defensemen with 41 points, a career-high, and posted a plus-20 plus/minus mark on the season. Del Zotto also notched career-highs in goals and assists, and tallied 10 points in the playoffs, including two goals.

His strong year followed a disappointing 2010-11 when he was demoted and only played 47 games with the Rangers, none coming after Feb. 25.

In his rookie year in 2009-10, Del Zotto enjoyed a breakout campaign as he scored 37 points. While he posted a -20 rating on the year, he showed why the Rangers selected him in the first round.

Retaining Del Zotto keeps the Rangers stout defensively for their upcoming season, which opens Saturday in Boston. Del Zotto is part of a talented defensive group that also includes Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal, among others. A source told ESPNNewYork.com that the team does not expect to have defenseman Michael Sauer this season as he's still dealing with problems since suffering a concussion late in 2011.

"(Del Zotto) played very well for us last year and at such a young age if you miss a minute of camp it's a bad thing," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We're very happy he hasn't missed a minute and he's looked very good the past few days."

During the lockout Del Zotto played with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of the Swiss A-League and left after experiencing "back stiffness." He said that playing overseas helped him conditioning-wise, which Tortorella noted in his news conference.

The youngster is thrilled to have his contract out of the way.

"I got a big smile on my face," Del Zotto said. "I'm glad it's all over with and I can go out and play hockey and get back to what we do best."

Gilroy, 28, played with the Rangers from 2009-11, notching 26 points in that time. He signed with Tampa Bay prior to last season and ended up being traded to Ottawa. During the lockout he played with the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford. He's played in 194 games in his career and has 46 points.

Tortorella didn't give Gilroy the most ringing endorsement on Sunday, but his addition gives the Rangers extra depth on their blue line.

"He really wasn't bad. I don't think he was great," Tortorella said of Gilroy's time with the Whale. "He wasn't bad at times. I didn't see every game he played when we were out. But you certainly can see -- he's played in the National Hockey League, we need depth on our blue line.

"Quite honestly when he left us I thought he was really beginning to understand what we wanted out of him. He was beginning to understand the coaching staff. I guess he didn't really like it too much and he took off for a while. I'm happy he's back because it's certainly an easier transition because he knows what's expected out of him and he knows how we go about our business. He can move a puck, he can skate, and it's something we want. We want to play up-tempo. We're hoping he can help us."

ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang contributed to this report.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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