As Glen Sather talked about needing a changing in coaching styles and Alain Vigneault talked about giving his skill players ‘more latitude’, you could get a sense that next season has the potential to be a coming out party for a little Norwegian winger that never seemed to match up with John Tortorella. Could Alain Vigneault’s arrival be a blessing in disguise for Mats Zuccarello?
Known for maximising zone starts for his skill guys, a more puck possession style, and having run teams that have had actual powerplay success, it seems that Mats Zuccarello could be placed in the best situation to succeed with the Rangers that he has ever had. During his time on Broadway, Zuccarello has routinely been the Rangers’ most creative powerplay operator, he’s clearly better with the puck than without, and was never ideal for the grinding, throw the puck deep and chase after it style that was the hallmark of the Tortorella years.
While all the talk may center on what Vigneault can do with Rick Nash, what happens with Brad Richards, and how he’ll be able to get the most out of Chris Kreider the impact the new coaching regime could have on Mats Zuccarello could be huge. The talent has always been there.
With 34 points in 67 games as a Ranger, Zuccarello has flashed NHL ability, particularly through his vision and passing ability. However he has never truly had an opportunity – at least a prolonged one – in a full scoring role. With the injuries to Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, at least in the short term (assuming he’s re-signed of course), Zuccarello promises to get a long look in camp and during the preseason to fill that role. He has always had the ability to make an impact, know he may be in the right situation to make an impact.
While there is still the offseason to negotiate, the Rangers would be well advised to try and get the best out of the Norwegian winger. He should be cheaper than any free agent of similar talent and knows the franchise well. The fit is already there.
Zuccarello has shown he can step up when needed, and with the aforementioned potential absences in the top six, Zuccarello being trialled in a more prominent role simply makes sense at this point. With the Rangers turning to Alain Vigneault because he’s seen as a tonic for the Rangers recent ails maybe the same will eventually be said of Zuccarello, thanks to Alain Vigneault’s arrival.