Best post-lockout Ranger: Round 1, Scott Gomez (8) vs. Mats Zuccarello (9)August 1, 2013, by
As the offseason wears on, us and Matt Josephs of Blue Line Station (Twitter: 11Matt_Josephs8) will be running a tournament for the Best Ranger since the 2005 lockout. Yesterday we saw #1 Jaromir Jagr take out #16 Wade Redden. Today’s matchup is #8 Scott Gomez vs. #9 Mats Zuccarello:
Scott Gomez (acquired – 2007 unrestricted free agent)
Scott Gomez was signed away from the Devils on a massive seven year contract. At that point, Gomez was one season removed from a 30-goal, 80-point season, and was hitting the market as the best center available. Brought in to help the Rangers deal with the loss of Michael Nylander, Gomez slotted into the top line with Jaromir Jagr and Marty Straka. His first season was pretty successful, as Gomez put up 16-54-70. But that second year showed a significant drop, netting just 16 goals and 58 points. Gomez wound up as the poster boy for bad contracts signed by the Rangers (moreso than Redden in my opinion). Overall, Gomez put together a line of 28-96-124 in 158 games. Not many Rangers have matched that pace since he was traded.
However, with the Rangers looking to sign Marian Gaborik in the summer of 2009, the Rangers were able to deal Gomez (with Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto) to Montreal for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, Russian prospect Pavel Valentenko, and some kid name McDonagh. The Rangers spun Higgins around to Calgary later that season for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. This was probably the single most influential trade the Rangers made post-lockout.
Mats Zuccarello (acquired – 2010 unrestricted free agent)
The Rangers signed Zuccarello after an impressive showing at the Olympics and one of the top scorers in the SEL. Although many hoped he would be the next Martin St. Louis, Zuccarello needed some time to adapt to the speed of the NHL game. Zucc was wildly inconsistent in his first two seasons, putting up 6-17-23 (in 41 games) and 2-1-3 (in 10 games) respectively. After spending the lockout in the KHL, the Rangers re-signed Zuccarello for the final 15 games of the 2013 season. This is when Zuccarello finally showed what he was capable of.
This time around, Zuccarello was all over the place, and was a dominant puck possession player for the Rangers. He rounded out their forward depth, and chipped in with three goals and eight points to end the season. So far, Zuccarello has a line of 11-23-34 in 67 games with the Rangers. He has at least one more season on Broadway, as he re-upped this week.
So who do you think is the better Ranger, Gomez or Zuccarello? Vote thumbs up for the higher seed (Gomez), or thumbs down for the lower seed (Zuccarello). Voting ends at midnight tonight.