After some quick thoughts on the Mats Zuccarello trade, we’ve had time to digest the trade on Saturday night that sent the beloved winger to Dallas. Let’s expand on those, shall we?
1. It looks like the market for Zuccarello wasn’t as high as fans had hoped, especially given his recent tear through January and February. Despite the hopes that Zucc would bring back a guaranteed first round pick and a prospect, he was dealt for 2nd (2019) and 3rd (2020) round picks, with conditions that could make both of them firsts. Those conditions (win 2 rounds, Zucc re-signs in Dallas) are unlikely to come to fruition. Jeff Gorton, same with any GM, is not going to turn down a better offer to take this deal. So let’s stop with the talk that Gorton should have gotten a guaranteed first rounder. The market wasn’t there.
2. The pundits were saying that the Rangers would likely get a 2nd round pick and a B-prospect for Zucc. That is essentially what they got, a 2nd round pick and a 3rd round pick that will become a B-prospect. Given what we know, and that top prospects are *almost* never on the table for pure rentals, then it’s a pick-one from the mid-level guys. Given what we know about Dallas’ draft history and their lack of prospect depth outside of Heiskenan, Dellandrea, Robertson, Hintz, and Guryanov, the Rangers chose to pick their own guy instead of someone else from the Dallas pipeline. I’m fine with that.
3. It seems emotions are playing a large role in the outrage over the trade. That’s fine. Zucc was one of the most beloved Rangers, possibly the most beloved in the post-lockout era, non-Lundqvist division. You want to get the moon for the heart and soul, but the reality is that his value to fans was greater than his value to other teams with his on-ice production. He’s a 31 year old winger, pure rental, who outside of a hot six weeks was pretty bad this year. However if the stars align, Dallas gets a lucky draw and some hot players at the right time, then we could see one or both of these picks become first rounders. It’s highly unlikely, but still possible.
4. Also still possible but highly unlikely is a return for Zucc in the offseason. This type of deal, specifically with a 3rd rounder becoming a 1st rounder if he re-signs in Dallas, screams pure rental with no intent to keep Zucc around after this season. Was there a wink-wink, nudge-nudge Keith Tkachuk type deal in place before Zucc was traded? Probably not. But there is still a possibility. The Blueshirts do need some type of veteran leadership in the locker room next year.
5. There was talk about why Zuccarello barely got more than Brian Boyle (2nd rounder). I think it’s a bit of an apples/oranges situation. Boyle is a center, so his value is already higher. Whereas Zuccarello is viewed –wrongly– as a one-dimensional player, Boyle is viewed as a defensive shutdown guy to round out the bottom-six. NHL GMs are weird, and I don’t make the rules. That’s just the perception. I think, though, that if the 3rd round pick were a prospect you could name, the outrage wouldn’t be there and the comparison wouldn’t matter.
6. In the end, this trade stinks on an emotional level. Trying to separate emotion from the logic, and the return seems light because Zuccarello is still a top-six winger good for 50 points. When you look at other factors (bad until January, 31 years old, winger/not-center, expiring deal), all that brings the return down. There’s a mental aspect here too, as a 3rd round pick is basically a B-prospect, but we don’t see a name attached to anything yet.
7. Last one: Remember that your trade proposal sucks. Your expectations are not reality. This goes for everyone, including me.