State of the Rangers

Should Zuccarello Go Back To AHL for More Seasoning?

When everyone is fit should Mats Zuccarello go back to the AHL for more ice time? That’s a key question, in regards to this (good) prospect’s development and one that needs to be answered separate to the Rangers current playoff situation.

With Wojtek Wolski almost 100% and Ruslan Fedotenko not too far away from a return, the diminutive winger may keep finding his ice time decreasing to the point where it may retard his development. My main concern when the little Norwegian was initially called up was that he didn’t get lost in the shuffle when all the injured players returned to the team. It seems, to an extent, this has started to happen. We’ve seen the talented playmaker play on the lower lines in recent games and his production has suffered because of it.  Since his 3 assist performance against the Panthers Zuccarello has just 3 more helpers in 6 games and is -4 over that time frame. Since that Panthers game (when the winger played almost 20 minutes) his ice time has indeed been regularly decreasing culminating in playing less than 10 minutes against Atlanta last week. Against Pittsburgh, a game that the Rangers controlled for the most part, he only played 13 minutes. Developing a skilled forward with just 10 minutes here and there isn’t the way to go.

Clearly, when coach Tortorella needs to turn to players for production, right now he isn’t turning to the rookie winger. With his experiment on the power play point largely a failure (not really his fault) Zuccarello has struggled for opportunities to showcase his talents. He only has 6 shots in his last 6 games, 3 of which came in Detroit. Clearly the Norwegian isn’t getting the same opportunities as he was when the roster was less crowded. There are also other factors to consider when deciding what to do with Zuccarello. If the Rangers decide to be buyers at the trade deadline, cap space could be an important aspect and demoting Zuccarello may be beneficial, not just for the individual’s ice time, but because his relatively large rookie salary comes off the books and at this stage, every dollar counts.

Zuccarello can be a great skilled winger for the Rangers in coming seasons. He offers vision that isn’t easily matched and playmaking skills that are better than most rookies, better than a lot of veterans. His start to his NHL career has been a good one but it’s important he doesn’t get lost in the aforementioned shuffle. It may be time to make an unpopular decision. It may be time to send the Hobbit back to the AHL for more seasoning, more ice time and more roster room.

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  • This article makes me as angry as tortorellas decision to play him less!! He´s the most talanted playmaker we have!! He should be playing a minimum of 15min a game if we want to make it to the playoffs!! He has saved this team a number of times already.. It would be criminal to demote him!!

  • Why should we continue to waste our time with players like Feds and Prospal when they are just rental players on 1 year deals?

    Toying with our rookies/future is not advisable.

    Also, we shouldn’t be buyers at the deadline. If anything, we should sell our rentals for future considerations. This would allow our future to get the playing time they require and deserve. Otherwise, we should wait until July to make any moves.

    Bilbo lives!

  • While I like his game. In recent games he is looking lost. Send him to the whale to work on some things. Even he has said he is still adjusting.

  • Zuccarello IS hugely talented BUT… the article was trying to point out that IF he continues to be used by Torts like he has been recently then the best place for him is in the AHL playing 20mins/game. Not is beyond doubt. He cant develop feeding off scraps (10 mins/game)

    • Of course, but as you said, Torts is in control of this situation. So, there shouldn’t be an issue, play him.

  • Apparently Newbury has been called up due to the Wolski injury. As far as Zuccarello goes I would wait until we have a full roster back (not counting Dru) and then send him down to get more playing time. I don’t like it either but the fact of the matter is that players like Prospal and Feds (if healthy) are more important to this team’s playoff hunt right now than Zuccarello. Someone has to go and Torts isn’t going to sit Prospal or Fedotenko if they are ready. I would play EC to showcase him for a trade and then recall Zuccarello afterwards.

  • I’m lining up with Sandor and Brian on this one. Zuccarello should either be prioritized, or send him to The Whale. Bottom six/single digit playing time serves no one.

    Come deadline dangle EC, Gilroy, Wiese, maybe a D-man/prospect for Florida’s McCabe, or Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian.

    Remember, Slats and Rick Dudley scratched each other’s cap space backs, viz. the Brash for Todd White swap. Bogosian, I believe is a pending RFA. Thrash just threw a huge contract at Buff. Plus Bogosian’s from The Island.

    • If Sather is ok in the head he should trade for Bogosian. Begin the trade with Del Zotto or Gilroy. Of course they get another player,pick or prospect… Bogosian could help us now and the future= exactly wat we need! He´s great on PP and is that puck moving Dman we want!! get him NOW!!!

  • zuccarello is second on the team in points pr. minutes, the shootouts not included. His stats in producing points is better than Wolskis. Sending Zuke down would be a huge mistake.

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