In a promising sign during his recovery from a fractured skull that sidelined him for most of the playoffs, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has been cleared to play in a charity game in Norway next week, the team confirmed Thursday.
Zuccarello, who was hospitalized for three days with bleeding on the brain and lost his ability to speak after being struck by teammate Ryan McDonagh's shot early in Game 5 of the first round against the Penguins, will skate in the event at DNB Arena in Stavanger in his native country on June 19.
At the team's breakup day on June 1, the 27-year-old winger, who skated lightly but had not been cleared for contact, said he was improving and hoped to return for training camp in September.
"I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm," Zuccarello said. "I feel much better and I'm going to be getting better and better. It will still take longer to recover but, come the season time, I should be ready to go."
Zuccarello scored 15 goals and 49 points during the regular season and, according to teammates and coach Alain Vigneault, his absence for 14 games during the postseason left a big hole in the lineup.
Several teammates, including Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin, are scheduled to participate in the event, according to a Norwegian TV report that quoted Zuccarello's agent.
Notes & quotes: Boston College alums Kreider and Hayes also are playing in the Comm Ave. Charity Classic at Boston University on July 10 to benefit those affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) . . . The Rangers' preseason schedule won't be released until after the Stanley Cup Final, but the Flyers have announced they will host the Blueshirts Sept. 22 and visit the Garden Sept. 28 . . . The Rangers will conduct pre-draft meetings in Florida before the NHL draft, scheduled for June 26-27. They have five picks.