Even though the Rangers qualified Mats Zuccarello an offer over the summer he opted to sign a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. In his first season in the KHL he had 11 goals and 17 assists in 44 regular season games and added 2 goals and 2 assists in 7 playoff games.
With all the injuries the Rangers have occurred in the first 24 games of the season, the team is now in serious debate about back the Norwegian Hobbit. According to Larry Brooks, “ it is status quo regarding the Rangers’ interest in signing restricted free agent Mats Zuccarello, meaning no decision has been reached whether to offer a contract to the winger, whose KHL season ended last Tuesday with a first-round playoff defeat”.
Zuccarello underperformed during his two seasons with the Rangers, registering 8 goals and 18 assists in 52 games and never seemed to win the trust of John Tortorella. Some say he was never given a fair chance, but his size looked to be a big issue and restriction on his ability to play the Rangers style. One thing he does have going for him is the name he made for himself in the shootout despite using the same move over-and-over again.
The fact of the matter is Chris Kreider or Brandon Mashinter fit the mold of this team much better than Zuccarello, but I am still not completely opposed to bringing him back just to add competent bodies. I am sick of having to see the likes of Stu Bickel on the fourth line. Not only is he not a good player but he is not even a forward. Not to mention this team has a been a frequent visitor of the injury bug.
If Torts is not going to be comfortable playing Zuccarello regular minutes then please do not sign him. It is going to take at least a one-way, two-year deal to sign Zuccarello and if he is going to be a healthy scratch or play five minutes a game it just isn’t worth it. If that is the case I would rather run out Michael Haleyor Benn Ferriero. I am sure Zuccarello can add something to this team, but the production has to equal the cost if it is going to handicap the Rangers cap for multiple years.