Forgotten Man

We’ve seen the Rangers turn to the farm a lot this season. Mostly out of necessity in regard to injury but at times for some fresh impetus. What we haven’t seen is Mats Zuccarello make his way back to the big team. We’re talking about a supremely skilled and intelligent hockey player who is simply on the wrong club at the wrong time.

There doesn’t appear to be a fit for the talented Norwegian in New York, not now and not this season. All of which leads to the question of whether Zuccarello ever plays for the Rangers again. Right now, it’s doubtful.

Everyone knows the hockey term ‘tweener’. When a player is a top calibre AHL player but struggles to gain a foothold, make an impression, at the NHL level. Zuccarello is a better player than that. He’s an NHL quality player; he simply doesn’t fit in the current Rangers line up. He needs to be played in an offensive role and there simply isn’t one available.

Barring a disaster, the trio of Stepan-Anisimov-Gaborik isn’t getting broken up any time soon while Brad Richards seems to have found a home with Callahan and the club appear determined to re-establish Dubinsky in the top six (as they should). This leaves offensive scraps; something Zuccarello can’t live off. He’s not the type who can dump and chase with the Rupp’s and Prust’s of this world.

All of this makes Mats Zuccarello the forgotten man of this highly successful New York Rangers season. With 22 points in 18 games for the Whale this year, ‘Zuke’ is a go-to offensive player at that level. It’s a level he’ll be stuck at all season. With the Rangers having Sean Avery and Erik Christensen on the sidelines ready to play and Wojtek Wolski eventually returning Zuccarello has three NHL’ers in front of him without evening considering the merits of others in Connecticut.

Does Zuccarello have an NHL future? He’s more talented than P.A. Parenteau, a similar smaller type forward who struggled with the Rangers but who is carving out a solid NHL career with the Islanders so there’s plenty of hope. Zuccarello, assuming he wants to stay in North America after this season, needs to use the rest of the season as an audition process. Play lights out for the Whale and remind other NHL franchises what many thought of him when the Rangers won the race to sign him in the first place.

9 Responses to “Forgotten Man”

  1. thor-vidar says:

    You know he is injured at the moment?
    Any word on when he is back? Hope he get traded before deadline.

    • Chris says:

      Not sure when he gets back. I like him, and I hope he can establish himself in the NHL – it just looks extremely unlikely to be with the Rangers.

  2. Zen says:

    The guy definitely has value and can play at the NHL level. I was hoping that the team got a pick/prospect for him at the deadline.

    • Chris says:

      He hasn’t got as much value as you think. He’s a relatively unproven commodity at the NHL level and there are plenty of AHL’ers that can score heavily at that level.

      He’s got a ton of talent but people usually pay for proven commodities or the genuine blue chip prospects. He’s neither.

  3. jake says:

    Trade him to Detroit for a good pick they like these types of players.
    Or I would trade him to Carolina for allen or Gleason but don’t want to see him blossom there with this new conference format

  4. Sioux-per-man says:

    He would be a great forward for the JETS, I say trade him, Wolski, Christensen for Big Byfuglien. The Jets farm system is empty and they need someone that can score goals.

    It would be win/win for both clubs.

  5. Bobby Tux says:

    Zucarello is a perfect player to package with Dubi and WW to Ducks for Ryan and Lydman. All of those players need to move teams. The Rangers need to also insert Avery for Rupp – Rupp is ineffective in the 4 games he has played. Why trade Rupp if you already have his replacement on the roster

  6. pavel says:

    Now that you bring up Parenteau, I think the Rangers REALLY need to trade Zuc. Trade him to any team outside our conference next year. Because we all know the second he goes to another team, just like Zherdev, Korpikoski, Moore etc, he becomes a Ranger killer forever.

  7. NICK says:

    ZUCCARELLO IS TO SMALL FOR THE NHL, MAYBE JUST MAYBE HE CAN PLAY 10 MINUTES ON A WEST COAST TEAM. BUT IN THE EAST THERE IS NO ROOM. SEAN AVERY DESERVES TO BE IN THE LINEUP.

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