Yes, I am very behind on this news. Honestly, it’s because I didn’t really think it had any legs so chose to ignore it. My mistake.
Anyway, for those who hadn’t heard, there are rumors that the Rangers might look to bring back Mats Zuccarello. He is still Rangers property (as a RFA) so all they would need to do is sign him and he can join the roster. No waivers, no questions asked. His KHL team recently lost their playoffs series so conditioning wouldn’t be an issue. Well, conditioning in the sense that he’s played more recently than Roman Hamrlik had when he joined the lineup Thursday night. But do the Rangers want him?
While I have been able to figure out many of the moves the Rangers have recently made, this one I’m completely clueless on. Yes, if he brings the spark he did at times last year and pops in a few goals, he will be welcomed with open arms. If not, do the Rangers need him? Specifically, would Torts want him?
Since I don’t know the answers to those questions, I’m instead going to give my take on this.
As a second-liner and possibly power play guy, he would be great. The odds he plays on the second line are about as likely as Marc Staal playing at any point during this upcoming roadtrip. Actually, scratch that since I honestly have no idea if that’s possible or not. The odds of him playing on the second line are as likely as Michael Sauer playing a game this season. As a third line grinder, I don’t think he’s a match. As a fourth liner, not worth it. And those are the lines he is going to end up on.
Sure if there are injuries and we need guys, things might change. But Zuccarello isn’t going to sit around and wait to see if that happens. He isn’t going to play in Hartford till we need him. He is going to want guaranteed ice time and I just don’t think the Rangers can or will guarantee that for him.
You also have to keep in mind the contract situation. Right now the Rangers sit at 49 contracts, including those in New York, Connecticut, and juniors who are already signed. Each team is only allowed 50. That means if the Rangers sign him, they are at the contract maximum and therefore wouldn’t have a lot of leeway in regards to trades at the deadline.
Could they move a body and then bring him in? Of course. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Gilroy (or Brian Boyle after Torts quotes last night) moved for draft picks. But the Rangers have to decide if they want to make that move. And if they do, if they want to use that new contract for Zuccarello. I’m not sure they will want to.
Again, anything is possible and I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see the Rangers sign Zuccarello. But in my opinion, I just don’t expect it to happen.