Finding a way to keep Zuccarello

March 20, 2012, by

The Rangers need to find a way to keep Mats Zuccarello with the organisation and in the line-up beyond this season. He provides the club with something different and can make a difference when he’s given the opportunity; as the win against the Devils showed.

Even with guys like Kreider en route there needs to be a place for the little Norwegian. Throwing Zuccarello on the ice after guys like Kreider is like a batter facing a knuckleball after countless fast balls. You have to plan differently for the nippy, much smaller Zuccarello. With his vision and passing ability there’s a different concern for a defense than with a straight-ahead-speed-merchant (with size) like Kreider. There should to be room for both.

There appears to be hope for Zuccarello, should he want to stay with the franchise and not explore other opportunities in the league (or Europe). Despite a great year collectively a few Rangers forwards have underwhelmed.

Brandon Dubinsky (better recently) has had a brutal year and clearly has a tenuous future given his presence in the Nash discussions. Artem Anisimov, a few games here and there aside, appears to have stagnated this year and isn’t as secure of his spot as he may once have been. Fedotenko looks to be getting older every game he plays.

There is surely space to accommodate Kreider and Zuccarello and that is to assume Kreider doesn’t spend time in the minors – still a possibility. A good question was raised on Twitter after the Devils game. Would ‘Zuke’ even want to stay after this year? It’s a valid question given his frustrating and inconsistent time with the organisation.

That said, if the Rangers offered him an increased opportunity of 13(is) minutes a game with a big part on the powerplay you have to think he’d consider staying. The Rangers are a club going places and looking to contend and that surely plays a role in any ambitious players’ decision.

What complicates all of this for Zuccarello is the contractual situation. Whether he’s been used correctly or not (a significant debate in itself), he simply hasn’t justified the Rangers qualifying him at (Update by Dave: Sorry to do this Chris, but the QO for Zucc is $945k, not $1.75m. The QO is based on salary, and that $1.75m includes bonuses.) $1.75m so there are complicating factors going forward. Though how much of an issue that would be if all parties wanted a reunion is another matter.

The Rangers need to find a way to keep the Norwegian. Not because he’s popular in the locker room. Not because he has a rock star following back home or because he is a media curiosity but because he could be a difference maker and successful teams can never have enough of those.


  1. Agentsmith says:

    meh. im not the biggest zuk guy. he may bring something different but does he set us apart. no way. does he scare teams? no. ill be really mad if his being here prevents kreider from joining the post season.

    • Chris says:

      You look at other sides that have had success and not every player has to set teams apart. It’s about building depth, adding different dynamics and, for us, improving an at best mediocre powerplay. He can help in all three aspects.

      …and he’d have to go on a ridiculous tear to be any kind of hindrance to Kreider. They aren’t part of the same equation.

      • The Suit says:

        Great points Chris. Zukes has certainly played well in all three zones and if he continues to do so, he may be worth a contract extension. Few on this roster can make the passes he does.

      • thor-vidar says:

        Hey Chris. Great article. But as others have stated,NYR have to qualifying him 105% off 900 k,wich is his actually salary without bonuses.

  2. Walt says:

    The guy has played a few games on this call up, and scored two goals, big deal!

    If he were more like Martin St Louis, then I’d say keep him here. Feds will not be re-signed next season, so we have room for the Kreider kid, make a deal for AA, Mitchell, or Dubi if need be, and get some additional help up front. On second thought, Dubi is having a bad year, no dought, but skating with Callie, he is a different player. He looked good the last two games with Callie on his wing, maybe that is all he needed to get him out of his funk!!!!!

    Nice to see Stepan score last night, and the Hags kid, what a pick up in the late rounds.

    • Chris says:

      Walt, St Louis had 20 points in his first 69 games…. before someone gave him a proper chance. Patience is key. So is being given an opportunity. For the record Zuccarello – in very limited ice time – has 26 points in his first 50 games.

      I’m not saying he’s the cure-all at all but the kid has game. He deserves a shot.

      • Walt says:

        Interesting stats, but would you compare him to Marty?????

      • Dave says:

        St. Louis developed “elusiveness” as he got older and more experienced. Not saying Zucc can’t develop that, but it’s tough.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    I like the little guy. Great vision on a team with little.

    You keep guys like that. You can’t play all north south. Otherwise people will pick you apart after a few games…. Evidenced by the losing streak.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ve never been a Zucc guy, but his play has been great so far. Consistency is the key here though.

  5. JB says:

    Thank you! Ive been lobbying for zucc all year and its nice to see him stepping up when he gets the opportunity. He still has more to his game and I hope well get to see it. I agree he brings something the team needs, but zuke and torts hockey is not really a match made in heaven, is it?

  6. ranger17 says:


  7. Zen says:

    Let’s see how Zuc does throughout the rest of the season and during the playoffs before making a conclusion about whether he is a keeper. You can see he is a much different player after spending most of the season in the AHL. He is MUCH more defensively sound and is still showing that excellent on-ice vision that makes him an asset. Obviously, the big hurdle is going to be the salary… which is why I just can’t see him returning. Players rarely stay on a team that wants to negotiate their annual salary lower unless they are getting older and losing some of their skills. Unless Zuc just blows up from here on out (a possibility), he is not getting qualified.

  8. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    We do need to see how the rest of the season plays out for him but so far he does look much better then last year.

    You can be sure he wont resign a 2way deal as he was making $67k the past 2 years being in the AHL when he could have been making a lot more back in SEL.

    I have to read up on qualifying but the $1.7m being quoted includes bonuses. Not sure if you just need to qualify his NHL salary which was $900k. A 1yr, 1 way 900k contract would be reasonable.

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      Just read the CBA section that talks about qualifications and to me it is based off of the players NHL salary which would not include bonuses.

      MZA would be a due a 105% qualification offer on 900k. Also due to the amount of games he has played it would not have to be a 1 way deal. But as I said above I dont see him signing a 2 way deal again after leaving a lot of money on the table waiting for his shot with the pro club.

  9. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Zuke has earned a longer look for this year, he does add a nice element to this team. Playing with Boyle and Mitchell was a great selection for a line. However I am not sure if he is a long term solution. He did his job though which is make a name for himself and render us a tough decision.

  10. rustam says:

    Zuccarello has never been given a fair shot. So many of his games last season were in bit part roles on the fourth line, when he’d barely scrape 10 minutes a game.

    He has more natural talent and skill than every one of our forwards except Gaborik and Richards (arguably more than either). He brings guile, craft, and vision to a team that has a lot of work ethic but limited skill. Give him time, give him confidence, give him a run in the team. He deserves at least that, and I’m glad that Torts will be forced to play him since he’s scored 2 in 2.

    Maybe he could be as good as St. Louis, I don’t know. But at the minimum, I worry that if he goes elsewhere in this league, he’ll become a PA Parenteau (more points than Richards this year)… more proof that technically skilled wingers have really little space in Tortorella’s NYR.

    • PxxxxR says:

      Totaly agree with u on this one. The way Pitspurg ran over the Rangers shows that u cant play along the boards in the long run. Sell Zucc to a club that knows how to apriciate skill!

  11. Amy Trapp says:

    I agree that he needs a longer look than just two or three games. Fedotenko and Rupp look expendible to me, and Dubinsky has been just awful this season. To me these are the guys that should go. We have several good passers: Richards, Stepan, Zuccs, but no one can manage to put the puck in the net when they have an opportunity off of great vision passes. We have enough tough guys on the team that Rupp should not be kept. He’s sooo lumbering and slow. We need speed at center to keep the opponents’d-men back to protect against breakaways and speedsters (like Hags) blowing by them up ice. Nash is not a speedster, but he’s got hands and can put the puck into tight places up high and down low. We absolutely need a
    scoring threat to thin out the opposition defense and to make our PP more potent. We REALLY need help on the PP. Other teams do not fear our PP, and it is hurting us very, very badly.

    • Lando says:

      only reason Rupp isn’t expendable is because every team needs a fighter. Prust isn’t big enough and is too skilled defensively to be hurting his hand

    • Dave says:

      Well Fedotenko is a scratch, so you’re half right. Can’t really scratch Rupp in the Eastern Conference, need that toughness.

  12. Lando says:

    I for one am a big fan of Zucc. I would love to see them retain him and if they do, I don’t see him interfering with the chance of Kreider coming up. Feds isn’t going to be resigned so he is free space. Zucc can thrive in the 3rd line RW spot. I say throw him in a 2/3 year, 1.5-2 million contract. When that deal is up we can let him walk if JT Miller is ready or resign him for another year. Do you really want another P.A Parenteau?

    • Dave says:

      If it goes the other way, it could be another Sean Avery. Food for thought.

      • Jackson Raney says:

        Honestly, I’d consider that contract something of a steal granted he goes on to prove there’s some consistency to his improved game. Don’t forget he’s still young with barely half an NHL season under his belt. His potential is worth the risk in my opinion.

  13. rob sahm says:

    sather has stated he wants to resign zuke with dubi being rumored in the nash talks i would make him expendable before letting go of anisimov fedetenko wont be back next year so that leaves a spot open for matts i say bring him back he is worth a roster spot over feds or john scott