State of the Rangers

Zuccarello Healthy; Can He Help Rangers Offense?

Amid the Rangers stumbling offense and the awful nine game losing streak the Whale find themselves in down in the AHL, perhaps unnoticed to many, is the pending return of Mats Zuccarello. Many have given up on the small Norwegian and depth has certainly helped pushed him back in to the AHL, but his talent and skill have never been doubted.

It just so happens that the Hobbit’s game doesn’t fit a checking style and he needs to be in a scoring role, but if the Rangers continue to be (at best) inconsistent offensively an opening could appear. So, should the undersized winger make a strong impression in the next week or so, could he become a candidate to help kick start the Rangers offense?

The skilled winger could have some success if paired with a passer like Richards and a hard hustling winger like Callahan, however, Zuccarello may not be able to influence his own future regardless of how impressive his AHL return is. There are players already in New York (Dubinsky, Anisimov, Richards among others) who, if they raise their game, would render the Zuccarello scenario moot. However, so long as the Rangers offense – and power play- remain underwhelming Zuccarello may be able to force himself back in to the equation.

Zuccarello shouldn’t be lacking for motivation. With his all star appearance in the AHL this weekend to look forward to ‘Zuke’ also knows that from the minute he gets back on to the ice, he’s playing for his Rangers and perhaps NHL future. He needs to show progress, desire and above all, production.

Can Zuccarello force himself back in to the equation? If he can show that he can play without the puck yes. If he can control and be effective on the powerplay for the Whale, yes. If Boyle, Dubinsky, Anisimov and (insert underwhelming forward’s name here) continue to shoot blanks, yes. There’s certainly an opportunity there for Zuccarello if he can make a quick impact in the AHL, but it goes without saying he’s running out of time.

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  1. Even you are right on Zuccs, just tell me who should sit? Haggy, Mitchel, Boyle? I would sit Feds, but he playing exact style Torts want. So tell me how your wish can be possibly done? MZA has no spot on the roster by many other reasons. His size wasn’t and wouldn’t be compatible in this league. Tedenby is much better player and bigger too, but can’t survive in Devs b/c today’s game is very physical. The one more reason, former MVP in Swedes league got to much $$$ from Slats to justify point production to his salary.

    1. How about sitting Anisimov,I like the guy but he is a no show lately.He also is not a physical player so if you replacing him with Zuk,you are not losing toughness.
      Being benched may light the fire under artie.He needs to score and add some toughness with his 6’4″ frame. We must have more goal scorers to have a chence to go further then one round in the playoffs.

  2. Nice post Chris. I was never sold on Zuccarello from the get go. Even watching him in the olympics it seemed like on an NHL size sheet he didn’t possess that elusiveness that productive smaller players like Martin St. Louis and Brian Gionta have.

    Artyfan…I think if the team needs an infusion of offense, Mitchell can always sit. He’s been a nice complementary player this year and has done everything asked of him. However, he is not a part of the teams long term future and should never stand in the way of upside.

    1. I just compared Mitchell vs Zuccs and my preference stays with Mitchell. I’m not saying he is our future.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with you between Zucc and Mitchell. I was just saying that the lineup is not lock tight with no current roster members being expendable. If someone comes along who can infuse some skill into the top 6, Mitchell is not a tough call to hit the press box…

        1. The question was particularly re Zuccs and I said I prefer Mitchell over him. We go Ryan for Mitchell, has no arguments on that. The Article was re Zuccs return and not for who can be traded.

          1. I wasn’t saying we should trade Mitchell…you stated very strongly in your response to the original post that there is flat out no space for Zuccarello on this team. I was simply pointing out that if you are in the camp that Zuccarello possesses enough upside and impact to try to figure a way to get him into the lineup, than John Mitchell shouldn’t stand in your way

  3. I think we’ve forgotten that, last year, Zuc was very effective on the power play, a clear sore spot for the team this year. 40% of his points came on the power play. Paired with Richards and Gaborik, it would be an addition to our offensive capabilities, in my view. Nothing wrong with him effectively being a power play specialist while minimizing his even strength minutes until he shows consistency there (which he might right from the start).

  4. I am not sold on Zuke either, however I prefer him over some of the trades mentioned for players like Ryan. After next year Ryan will be a forgotten name similiar to Paul Stastny was last year. I have not heard his name once this year. We will fix our shortcomings intelligently and we have the pieces to do it internally.

  5. It can’t hurt to give him an audition. Maybe he’ll provide something. Maybe someone elsewhere will like him as part of a trade package. Certainly can rest Boyle for a while to heal his ankle. I’d rather see MZA than EC.

  6. As a short term fix, and spark some players, why not try him out in place of AA? Artie is going through a rough time, and this may be the spark under the seat of his pants that may get him going again.

    Justin was right on, this guy is no Gionta, or St Louis, gets nailed into the boards too easily, but he does have some great skills. Showcase him, he won’t be back next year, and maybe we get a draft pick for the guy!!!!!

  7. Zuc is done for the Rangers. Not sure if he deserves to be, but he just doesn’t fit this team.

  8. I would agree with you—if there was a lineup spot for Zuke available; with the emergence of Carl Hagelin, that may well have squeezed Zuke out of a roster spot; he would have to be top 6 and all of those spots are taken, barring injury.

  9. I think Zuccs can definitely help the power play, but as it has already been said, who sits? Secondly Mitchell has been getting hot as of late, I would not change a thing there.
    Saying that, Boyle, Dubi, AA, and a few others have been fairly cold on the scoring side. Although it is not always about goals / points, if these guys start scoring, then we do not need a thing.

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