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Posts tagged: Mats Zuccarello

Considering Mats Zuccarello’s future

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?

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Musings; momentum growing for the Rangers

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

It’s a good day to be a Rangers fan. Two wins on the bounce, two four goal games produced by the Rangers and suddenly a goaltender who was boasting about a lack of challenge has started to look rattled. Let’s get into the musings

I don’t care who you are – the 80’s Oilers aside – no player or team should ever provide motivation for the opposition. Holtby’s comments and Ovechkin’s comments have both being countered by improved play on the ice by the Rangers. Adam Oates cannot be happy with the way the series has begun to swing.

Obvious thought of the day: Derek Stepan is going to be a very rich hockey player sooner rather than later.

Is Stepan the first of the home grown kids – talking ‘tweener contracts – where Sather really doesn’t have the same power as he usually has in regard to controlling costs? With Richards clearly in decline (despite the occasional production recently, Stepan is an absolutely critical Ranger long term given the way he is developing.

Derek Stepan has four game winners in his last nine goals. Please remember this young man is just twenty two.

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The improved Mats Zuccarello: Puck possession monster (in a small sample size)

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Mats Zuccarello has been one of the catalysts for the Rangers recent 9-3-1 run that clinched a playoff berth. He was brought back, and with a new confidence that is apparent on the ice, changed his game and is now becoming a leader in driving puck possession. It’s a transformation in his game that is not only showing up on the scoreboard (3-4-7 in 14 games), but is showing up in his metrics.

Although Zuccarello is subject to small sample sizes, he leads the forwards with at least ten games played in Corsi Rel QoC (1.035!!!) and RCorsi (18.7!!!). We always rave about how Carl Hagelin (12.1 RCorsi) is a puck possession beast, but Zuccarello is blowing him out of the water. What makes Zuccarello’s emergence special is that he is helping Brad Richards and Taylor Pyatt improve their puck possession stats. Both were pretty awful (comparatively to the type of player they are) before being put on a line with Zuccarello.

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Musings; Rangers need to deal with Hurricanes

Rick Nash needs to be better tonight.

Rick Nash needs to be better tonight.

Well, it’s another ‘biggest game of the season’. The Rangers need to win today in my humble opinion because the Devils would like nothing more than to play the role of spoiler on the weekend, so the Rangers don’t want to go into that game having to win. Anyway, on to the musings

I absolutely loved Kevin’s article about Chris Kreider the other day.  It’s the wart on the face of the Rangers this year, for sure. I think Kreider absolutely has the ability to turn it around but at the same time I don’t think he’s untouchable any more – there’s just too much disappointment and doubt around his long term future. If the Rangers could add a major piece in a trade and Kreider had to be included I think they’d consider it now, whereas as recently as pre-season he was untouchable.

John Moore I: I’ve liked him as a prospect, was pleased he was grabbed from Columbus and he’s justified my excitement since being a Ranger. There’s so much to like about his game. While it’s early I think a full training camp and a lot of teaching and he could play up to his draft status. Columbus will regret this one.

Moore II: I think Moore’s play will also have had a huge influence on the Rangers draft day thinking. I think they may have looked to a defenseman first (and still might) but his play may allow the Rangers to go for a skilled forward or a physically imposing player instead of a blueliner.

Just a thought: If the Rangers win out to get in, has Brian Boyle played his last game as a Ranger?

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Mats Zuccarello has proven he belongs in the NHL, but does his future lie in New York?

Proved us wrong.

Proved us wrong.

Mats Zuccarello has yet to net his first goal of the season, but the diminutive Norwegian has already left his mark in six games since returning to the Blueshirts.

Zuccarello has averaged a healthy 16:49 and has earned high praise from coach John Tortorella for his conditioning, quickness and creativity.  Zuccarello has had an immediate impact on the power play, where the Rangers are five-of-15 since his arrival.  Zuccarello has just one assist on the man advantage, but he’s been very effective in gaining entry into the offensive zone and setting up the attack. Read more »

The Rangers may have a log jam of forwards this summer

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Up front, the Rangers will have a lot of moving parts this summer beyond their top six. With Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan certainties to be retained (a question of how much rather than if) and the club focused on developing the young players such as Chris Kreider and JT Miller, there’s not a lot of space on the roster. With the club committed, at least financially, to Derick BrassardDerek Dorsett, Brian Boyle, Arron Asham, and Taylor Pyatt there’s maybe no space for the likes of Mats Zuccarello, no matter how he plays this year out.

The natural assumption is that the Rangers will trade guys to make room for others. But the problem with this assumption is that the cap is coming down to $64.3 million, and assuming the Rangers can move a now expendable guy such as Taylor Pyatt (and his $1.55 million cap hit) is a dangerous assumption. There’s also no guarantees the club can move a Boyle or a Pyatt should they choose to. Now, do the math. That’s ten players listed without considering Ryane Clowe, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Darroll Powe. That’s also not considering any players from the Whale, CHL, Europe, NCAA, or free agency. Log Jam folks.

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Gaborik’s future may hinge on the prospects

Could Zuccarello's arrival mean the end for Gaborik?

Could Zuccarello’s arrival mean the end for Gaborik?

There’s a strong chance that after such an impressive performance against the Flyers (no matter how unimpressive the Flyers have been this year) that John Tortorella will stick with the line-up that pulled out the victory, and certainly the 5-2 win perhaps affords the coaching staff time with re-acquainting themselves with Mats Zuccarello. That said, when Zuccarello does eventually re-enter the line-up – and he will, why else bring him back? – his play will have a significant impact on the future of Marian Gaborik.

The Rangers have a young roster and enough moving parts that cap space isn’t a huge concern at the moment, even if it does need monitoring for next year. However, moving Gaborik or buying out Richards gives the Rangers much more maneuverability going forward. Therefore, a successful return by Zuccarello and/or an immediate impact by the also incoming Jesper Fast make Gaborik a luxury.

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Strang: Fast, Zuccarello traveling to North America tomorrow

Per Katie Strang, the plan is to have both Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello travel to North America tomorrow. Both are coming off seasons in Sweden and Russia, respectively, so both are in game shape. It is unknown what the organization plans to do with them at the moment. They could both be sent to Connecticut of the AHL for a game or two, or could be inserted right into the lineup with the Rangers. The Rangers play Thursday, but that might be pushing it. If they are to play with the Rangers, Saturday against Montreal might be the earliest.

The popular scenario is that Zuccarello will be with the Rangers immediately –he has prior experience with most of the team and the coaching staff– and Fast will be sent to the AHL to adjust to the North American game. Scouts think Fast is ready, but there’s no need to rush him.

Also per Strang, Zuccarello’s contract is $700k, pro-rated for this year only. Fast’s entry-level deal, signed last June, is $900k for three years.

With Zuccarello in, who will sit among Boyle, Pyatt, and Powe?

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

In case you missed it, the Rangers re-signed Mats Zuccarello, who will likely join the club within the week. Zuccarello will bring some stability and scoring to the bottom-six, something that is desperately needed. The addition of Zuccarello will lead to some lineup changes. When all the pieces fall into place, the odd-man out is not who you might think it is.

It’s been very clear that the organization wants offensive talent to play alongside J.T. Miller on the third line, so it’s a logical assumption that these two will see some ice time together. Since Zuccarello is rather flexible and can play either wing, that opens up a few options for the Rangers. If Torts wants to try Miller at center, then the Rangers can try either Marian Gaborik (RW) or Chris Kreider (LW). Each line will have a lot of skill and speed, but the downside is that the trio will be defensively inept. The rest of the top-six remains the same.

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Rangers re-sign Mats Zuccarello

Per several reports, the Rangers have re-signed forward Mats Zuccarello to a one-year contract through the end of the season. Zuccarello will be given a one-way deal, and the organization will reevaluate Zuccarello at the end of the season. The Hobbit adds much-needed scoring depth to the bottom-six, and will hopefully jump-start the third line, which is in desperate need of scoring.

As noted previously, Zuccarello will not need to pass through waivers, as the Rangers submitted a qualifying offer last offseason.