Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
If he's healthy after All-Star break, why not give Zuke a look?
Truth: The Rangers could use some creativity and scoring on the power play. Option: After the All-Star break, if Mats Zuccarello is healthy, why not bring him up from the AHL for a look?
Zuccarello, who is 8-15-23 in 19 AHL games, with four PPG and 48 shots on goal, can pass and has value in the shootout, too. (5 of 9 before this year)
Listen, it’s understood that the coaching staff had some concerns about his defense and ability to play on the smaller North American ice surface. But IMO, the reward is worth the risk for a couple weeks. Zuccarello’s cap hit would be slightly north of $800,000. Might also work as a showcase for the RFA before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
Here’s a guy who’s proven he can get on the scoresheet on the top levels. 64 points in 55 games for Modo in 2009-10. 6-17-23 for the Rangers in 42 games last season.
After Zuke was sent down after going pointless in three games early this season, I remember coach John Tortorella saying he didn’t believe the Hobbit was useful on the fourth line, that a Top 9 spot would have to be open.
Not sure that thinking is valid anymore. The power play is flawed.
As a forward who can be penciled into the lineup against certain teams and held out against others, Zuccarello (if his ankle is fully healed) could provide some points with the man-advantage. Worth a try. Especially because it seems spare forward Wojtek Wolski's days are numbered.