We got three questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, use the widget on the side of the page to submit your questions.
Bob writes: I’ll miss Zucc, one of the smartest players I’ve seen since 1951.
Ok not really a question, but yes we can all agree with you Bob. Mats Zuccarello was a rare hockey player for the Rangers. He was the only player on the roster that had a unanimous love among the fans. I can’t think of one person who disliked him. Didn’t matter if you’re an eye test person, a stats person, a blue collar hockey person, or a white collar hockey person. You loved Zucc. He will be missed.
Tommy Hockey asks: Do you think the conditional 3rd (1st if Zucc re-signs in Dallas) is a poison pill to prevent Dallas from re-signing Zucc? Is it opening a path back to New York?
This was submitted before Zucc broke his arm in his Dallas debut, but I’m going to answer from the point of view of when the trade was made, not after he broke his arm.
I think it can be viewed as a way to ensure that Dallas does not re-sign Zucc, however I’m unsure if that truly means it’s a trade and re-sign for the Rangers. Getting a 2nd and a 3rd and then re-signing Zucc would be brilliant, but it is heavily contract dependent. In the end though, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
The best case scenario is that Zucc heals for the playoffs (and Dallas makes the playoffs). The Stars get a lucky draw, upset a team or two, and Zucc plays a major role in them advancing to the Western Conference Final (thus triggering one condition, turning the 2019 2nd into a 1st). If he plays an integral role, Dallas, who is losing top-six forwards this offseason, would then re-sign him, making that 2020 3rd into a 1st.
It’s a pipe dream, for sure.
Mikeyyy asks: Who are your top-five prospects? What are their ceilings?
- Vitali Kravtsov – this kid is going to light it up for the Rangers when he comes over, and it may be as soon as next season. I have him projected as a top line winger.
- Igor Shestyorkin – the heir apparent also might come over this summer. If Henrik Lundqvist is The King, then Shesty is The Czar. His numbers in the KHL are borderline insane. Between he and Kravtsov, the Rangers have potentially elite talent coming over.
- K’Andre Miller – speaking of potentially elite talent, Miller is having a fantastic season at Wisconsin. The kid is big, fast, skilled, and learning the defense position quickly (he’s a convert from forward). He’s a bit more volatile when it comes to projections though. He could be a top pairing guy, but could be more of a strong 2nd pairing guy if he struggles in his own zone.
- Lias Andersson – I still like this kid, and he’s found his defensive game since his recent call up. The kid is just 20 years old, and he will find his offensive game. He’s probably going to be a solid middle-six option. If the Rangers are going to truly compete, Andersson is your 3C. But if everything goes right, he could be a 2C.
- Yegor Rykov – I’m going off the board here for my #5, but that’s probably because I haven’t heard much about Nils Lundkvist. Rykov has had a solid season in the KHL and may make it a trio coming over this summer. He’s been overlooked because of Miller and Lundkvist, but he looks to be solid middle pairing potential.