Will improved consistency pay off for Mats Zuccarello?

Zuccarello: one of the more consistent Rangers this season
Zuccarello: one of the more consistent Rangers this season

Amid the very up and down season the Rangers are currently ‘enjoying’, one player who has finally started to show some legitimate consistency is Mats Zuccarello, and it could cost the Rangers. The Rangers did the right thing last summer when they did not over commit to Zuccarello when they brought him back on a short term deal. The player hadn’t shown enough consistency or finishing ability to be considered a viable top six NHL forward and given his size and skill set, any other role wasn’t a realistic option.

Since his early season benching for the Flyers game, Zuccarello has arguably been the Rangers most creative player and is producing at a solid level. For a player that until recently has struggled to exert himself on a game by game basis, Zuccarello has been a creative force.

Zuccarello has started to score goals, his playmaking has been at a high level, and he has been one of the more productive players on the powerplay. Not without his own flaws, Zuccarello continues to have defensive lapses and is perhaps too focused on making the perfect pass rather than looking to finish. But recent signs have been promising.

Consistency is key. With four goals in his last seven games, and as the third highest scorer on a team struggling to score, Zuccarello is carving out a solid role for himself after his previous struggles. This is evident when you consider the eight points he has contributed on an improved Rangers powerplay unit.

On course to score over 50 points this season, Zuccarello has a chance to cash in this summer, especially as countless other Rangers under perform offensively. With the cap promising to go up – Gary Bettman has indicated $71.1 million as a cap ceiling – the Rangers will have cap space, thanks to the likely departure of a handful of veterans (goodbye Pyatt and Pouliot et al).

If he can maintain his offensive production (or better still, keep improving) Zuccarello should be in store for a solid pay rise. However, amid all the positivity, will the improved performances mean the Rangers are willing to offer a significant raise?

The Norwegian playmaker is making $900k this year (bonus not inclusive) and is a restricted free agent in the summer. Knowing Glen Sather’s hard ball stance with RFA’s, Zuccarello shouldn’t expect to laugh all the way to the bank. At the very least his recent improved play means the Hobbit is looking at prolonging his stay on Broadway for near future.

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    • No way he eclipses 3 yrs at 3 mil, is there? I don’t think I’d want him back for more than that.

  • Before we get to carried away with his play let’s see how the year plays out. I’d like to see how he does over the course of a long playoff run. My problem with him has always been his consistency. Does he have what it takes to hold up over a protracted run?

  • Zucc is playing very well, and if this continues, he should double his current salary. Because he will be a RFA, he still isn’t in the drivers seat, and should he make demands that can’t be met, Zucc will be history. Someone said it best, wait too see what happends after the season, not what he is doing now, to determin his worth to the team!!

  • Against Washington, Zuke was the only player who showed up. He doesn’t back away from a check, goes to the net, and is unselfish beyond a fault with the puck. You’d wish he would shoot more.

  • A two year 2.5mil a year contract should be reasonable. when dorsett makes 1.7 a year a guy who if he scores 50 points deserves more than that

    • Sather didnt sign Dorsett.Lets wait and see what he ends up with. Cant pay him now or speculate how much he gets paid.

  • He reminds me of Pavelich =)
    By far he is giving more that any other player. I made the suggestion that Kredier can use a quick benching a few games ago and got some thumbs down. I am not saying he is not playing well because he is. Just look at the 1st 4 games back after being recalled. He was making his presence known by throwing big checks and relentless forechecking. Even tho he is still playing well, he had more fire that first few games. He is a young guy and should have the energy to keep playing at that early level. I short benching or a healthy scratch may be that small jolt to kick it up that one more notch. Do not hate on me….I love My Rangers !!!!

  • Zuccarello certainly deserves $4 M a year. Than again, so does Stepan. Sather should pay him what he needs to, likely more like 3M. He hasn’t really been inconsistent since he came back from Russia. Yes, he makes defensive mistakes, but his teammates rarely do because he covers for them. He was on the ice for every PP goal the Rangers scored in last year’s playoffs. If I read the stats correctly, he hasn’t been on the ice for an opposing PP goal this year.

    Another point is that being small isn’t so bad if you are very small. Guys like Zuccarello need the awareness to avoid getting crushed by the big guys and end up being more durable than guys like Nash and Clowe. [Did Gretzky ever get hurt?]

    • Gretz had a broken T-spine! Your right though, look at Marty St Louie, Theo Flurey as examples of what your saying!!!

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