Considering Mats Zuccarello’s future

May 19, 2013, by
Zuccarello scores pretty goals.

Zuccarello scores pretty goals.

There’s a mountain of clichés attached to the not-so-mountainous Norwegian that describe his appearance, his NHL ability, the challenges he’s faced and even the fact he’s now a main act on Broadway. All that considered, it’s fair to assume Mats Zuccarello has secured an NHL future as the Rangers prepare to take on the Boston Bruins.

Throughout the playoffs Zuccarello has been forechecking, making plays, playing physical and has been much harder to knock off the puck. He’s been consistent and on top of all that, he’s been productive – something that (at least consistently) has eluded him in the past. He returned to the Rangers from the KHL with something to prove and he’s proving it.

While the Rangers have undoubtedly advanced because of a certain member of royalty in net and an upstart kid from French Canada at center ice, the Rangers wouldn’t have gotten this far without Zuccarello’s contribution. So what next for the little winger?

If competition fosters performance, Zuccarello was very aware the Rangers brought in Ryane Clowe and are intent on integrating Chris Kreider and JT Miller into the lineup sooner rather than later. While the Rangers have lacked consistent scoring this year, they do not lack bodies for the top nine roster spots beyond this season. Mats Zuccarello may have made the off season a difficult one for the Rangers and posed some interesting questions to team management.

There is no way the franchise cannot offer Zuccarello a new deal, his play has been too good recently and his contribution too integral. Where Zuccarello lines up after this year is where predicting the future gets tough. Is he a powerplay specialist? Can he mesh with Nash long term? Can the franchise afford to give him ice time and not prioritise Chris Kreider’s development? Many questions remain about Zuccarello’s position with the club even as he’s surely removed the doubt around his NHL credentials.

How Zuccarello (and Brassard for that matter) end these playoffs will go some way into establishing a spot for him. He deserves a chance to stick in a scoring role, at least in the short term, and lord does the Rangers powerplay need his vision and passing ability. Perhaps Zuccarello’s presence will allow the Rangers to finally develop Chris Kreider and JT Miller at the appropriate rates; both are still young and wouldn’t be stunted by extra seasoning out of the New York limelight.

One thing is for sure when discussing Mats Zuccarello; if he can provide offense on a regular basis he’ll get a chance. The Rangers need as much offense as they can get their hands on.


  1. Walt says:

    Zucc should be offered a contract, if for no reason, we get some sort of compinsation should he sign elseware, I believe?

    Interesting that you mentioned we could use him on the PP, why not? In the late 60’s, early 70’s, we got Bobby Rousseau (spelling?) from the Canadians, who was our PP specialist. He worked the point, and was terrific at it. He too wasn’t the biggest guy, but had some great skills, like Zucc. Another thing to think about, during the regular season, we could use Zucc on the shoot-out as well, he seems to thrive at it.

    I don’t believe we should sign Clowe because of health issues, as well as age, and lack of speed. We could find another free agent with his skill set easy enough, and save ourselves a second round pick. I’m high on Clarkson, younger version of Clowe, who can score very well. If that isn’t an option, give JT, or Chris a shot at the bigs, at no cost to the organization. Just a thought!!

    • TxRangerLovesSideBoob says:

      I’m starting to think we should let Clowe go, too. He’s been hurt for at least half his time here. That is not a good sign. While I like what he brings to the team, we can’t be wasting cap space on a guy who will be missing tons of games.

    • Chris says:

      Whether we keep him or not Walt, finding Clowe’s skill set is not easy. He’s a nailed on 50 point guy when healthy, hits like a brute and controls the puck along the walls like no other Rangers, by a distance. He’s physical, we need him. That said, if his demands are out of whack – considering his health issues – id not give him too much either.

  2. cv1919 says:

    Interesting that you choose this time to extol Z’s virtues. As the Bruins broke out of their zone in OT on Thursday eve it looked like it was in slow motion to me as I saw the impending doom. I just kept saying to myself “stay with your check Zucs”. He couldn’t. Granted, Marchand had a half step coming across his blue line but it became a full stride by the time he put the puck in the net. Not good! I still haven’t gotten the image out of my head. I hold on to plays like that. It was a tough backcheck but a lot of guys make it. Not a big fan of Z this morning.
    I like him short term but he tends to disappear for games at a time. I don’t see him as an effective contributor over the course of an 82 game season.

    • Jakki says:

      Zuke has been one of the best backcheckers this season, regardless of if it was his man to follow or not. And has disappeared for games at a time? If true, so has every player on the NYR roster this season(ofc not Hank), so really?

      Anyways, great post as usual, Zuke won’t be an expensive signing and wants to stay. Sure he’ll resign.

      • Ricardo says:

        I’m total agreed with you, Zucca will be better and better and he makes his teammates better. Look at Richard, with Zucca he actually played his best this season. Now without his playing in the fourt line. Nash will be better with Zucca as well. Go Zucca!

  3. Bloomer says:

    The Hobbit gives the Rangers depth that they will need going forward. He provides offense with he playmaking ability and isn’t afraid to get stuck in. He is entertaining to watch and I think he still has lots of upside left. As far as Kreider, he will get plenty of ice time next year as will Miller. The Rangers despite all the criticism are working him in slowly, too often I have seen young players fail because they haven’t rushed to soon. Miller is another who will see a bigger role next year as Richards isn’t

  4. Ren says:

    Zuke has been really good. When the richards zuke nash line was together, zuke was the one that always got puck control and set up the plays. He really does a lot of the work for goals but doesn’t always wind up on the score sheet.