UPDATE: (9:40 a.m.) - Zuccarello speaks. Here's a rough translation:
"There's a chance I must take. You do not get many of them in life, and if there is an alright offer, it is the best league in the world. It does not hurt to try."
In easier to read words, essentially he is saying that he isn't taking the opportunity to play in the best league in the world for granted and wants to give it another try. Nice to see the ambition. Whether he succeeds is remains to be seen, but it's likely that one thing he is not going to do is be a spectator; he'll give his all every shift to prove he belongs. Zuccarello also says that he has his equipment packed up and is prepared to go to New York on short notice.
(8:12 a.m.) - A different Norwegian news source, Dagbladet, spoke with agent Erik Ryman. Ryman says he doesn't foresee Metallurg interfering in any way and expects the contract to be finalized. He also confirms that it is a one-year, one-way deal but that he anticipates holding discussions with the Rangers over a multi-year deal at the end of this season.
(7:25 a.m.) - Norwegian paper Verdens Gang quotes agent Erik Ryman as implying that the contract is only for this season. Zuccarello previously was on record saying he wanted a multi-year deal in order to return to the Rangers. It remains to be seen whether Zuccarello intends to go back to Russia for next year or if there is more to this, but if it is indeed only for the remainder of this season then it's more or less a no-risk move for both sides.
6:49 a.m. - With Halpern going to the Canadiens and Bickel going to the Connecticut Whale, forward additions were inevitable. It appears that the long-rumored reunion with Mats Zuccarello will be one of them.
According to Aftonbladet, Zuccarello and the Rangers have agreed on a contract. The article quotes Zuccarello's Swedish agent, Erik Ryman, as saying that the 25-year-old Norwegian has received an offer from the Rangers that Zuccarello is happy with and that his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, simply need to sign off on it for the move to be official. Since Zuccarello has an out-clause to come back to the NHL in his contract with Metallurg this doesn't appear to be anything more than a technicality.
I can analyze this in two ways. From a purely emotional standpoint, I love getting Zucc back. He's incredibly easy to root for and plays with a ton of heart. Obviously you want to see anyone in a Rangers jersey succeed, but there's just something extra wonderful about Zuccarello putting in a goal and jumping around to celebrate.
Of course, as I'm sure plenty are going to point out in the comments section, this alone is not going to be the magical move that turns around the season. He's been inconsistent at the NHL level and has struggled to contribute off the puck. However, he showed signs of playing a more consistent, complete game in his final stint with the Rangers last year until a broken wrist ended his campaign. Tortorella has struggled to put out four lines he likes largely because the left wing contributions have been weak outside of Carl Hagelin. Zuccarello gives the team another offensive player on the left side and will hopefully allow Torts to get Gaborik back to right wing, where he is clearly more comfortable. If nothing else, it's an upgrade over Taylor Pyatt, who is good on the forecheck and defensively but has no business being put in an offensive role. And in a market where an aging, declining winger like Brenden Morrow is worth a top prospect, the Rangers do well to get a player familiar with the organization and with the potential to produce offensively for no price except money out of James Dolan's pocket.
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The deal is all about done. KHL team has signed off, and the only thing that holds MZA back atm is immigration. Could take a week before he is granted a visa.
If he returns I can't wait for the post game interview sessions and the Norwegian media contingent...it makes for goo Q&A.
Not re-signing Prust was more than meets the eye. This team has half the heart and fight it had last year. There is no one to jump-start this group, and as much as Nash's skill amazes me, his 10 Gs and lots of 'wow' factor just are not getting it done yet, and time is running out. Not to mention the incredible disappearance of Richie and Gaborick.
It seems like he might be a bit of a 5th wheel here but he plays with a lot of heart so we'll see. BTW I love coming to this site and seeing your great articles and insights on what's happening in Rangersville. thanks guys. You're doing an awesome job!
@TheNYRBlog I don't like him long term, but if he comes in and plays well he could be a good trade chip.
Richards was awful last night. His puck control in defensive zone was really bad and on top of that he can't set up or put the puck in the net. No way I would put the Hobbit with him.
for fun: Hags-Step-Nash (reunite them they were awesome), Zucc-Richards-Gabby (maybe Zucc can help gabby), Call-Miller-Kreider, Pyatt-Boyle-Powe/Asham
Only potential change I'd make is Cally-Richards-Gabby and Zucc-Miller-Kreider. I say get Miller and Kreider together as much as possible they are the future of this organization hopefully they can start building chemistry. If you put Zucc with them, he is only 25 that could create a great line if they all click.
@TheNYRBlog Boyle wasn't even the best faceoff guy Halpern was! So Boyle is the best 2nd faceoff option on the team.
I like bringing him back, we REALLY needed a good left winger, like you said Hags is the only other consistent one. Now we got Kreider, Hags, Pyatt, and Zuccs. Seems pretty good to me.
They do this to Zuccs every year. And yet, this is the organization he wants to stay with. I really like this kid.
So if someone told you a few weeks back that the Rangers were going to make moves because of their anemic offense and that those moves were placing Bickel and Halpern on waivers and signing Zuccarello (who you all know I like), what would you have though?
BTW, how long until Zuccarello gets injured because of Tortorella's system?
Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang have spoken to Zuccarello, and he says that he is not flying to NY today, but that he is ready leave on short notice. Deal not finalized yet, but expected to be done later today (waiting on approval from KHL team). Zucc adds that this is an opportunity he could not let go, because it might be his last chance making it in the NHL. One-way, remainder of the season deal. Will not play in World championships even if the rangers does not make the playoffs.
@TheNYRBlog hopefully boyle
@TheNYRBlog always spot on with your blog DUDE.
No problem with the one-year, one-way deal. Assuming his performance will have a lot to do if Rangers sign him to multi-year deal.Boyle & Pyatt are the guys who should be worried. Boyle at least brings his faceoff ability to the table.
Also don't see how this move is going to stop the rangers from coming out slow, and giving up the first goal every night. Hard to play catch up every night
Amnesty buyout to brad Richards or bust. That are these teams options. Our first line center plays like a 4th line center at best... There should be an post listing potential replacements either for this year or more likely for next. Wishful thinking but maybe Malkin?!?!?
@AnnoyingJoe that's ok, we don't have an NHL power play
@Beckfan5 I would have thought that it was a step in the right direction but clearly not a decision that single-handedly turns around the season. I don't think this is Sather's solution to the issue and that he's going to work hard to find some help in the trade market.
@KevinDeLury I agree. Pyatt should sit. He's making no contribution at all. Boyle, barely. I thought Newbury deserved another go, especially if Miller is out again.
@KevinDeLury Absolutely! I'm no fan of Boyle but his faceoff ability keeps him in the lineup when Miller is able to come back. Third line now would/should look like Boyle - Miller - Gabby based on last night's game. My question would be, if they do sign Zucc, who comes out of the lineup? I guess the logical answer would be Newbury but I really believe the Rangers lineup needs what he brings to the game. That 4th line energy was sorely lacking.
@KevinDeLury lol. That is the only asset between the two players.... Boyles face off ability. These two players are a joke.
@KevinDeLury Yup, virtually a no risk move for either side. Zuccarello gets basically a tryout for the rest of the season. If it works out then great, new contract in the future. If not, he goes back to Europe. Rangers have nothing to lose adding him but aren't stuck with him beyond this season if they aren't content.
@slapshot13j i still think Kreider should be in CT
@slapshot13j 4th line centers are physical and play with energy.
@slapshot13j The list is absolutely awful and it's exactly why Richards is not going to be bought out this offseason.
@cb1 then u either didn't watch the game last night, or don't know what the sport of hockey is. He was one of our best three players last night. He hit, blocked shots, skated hard, took shots...
@Herman_NYRBlog I literally just died a little inside knowing there is a chance he still may be here next year. You think San Jose would do a Richards for Gomez deal? In all honesty next year is going to be a bust too if he is our number 1 center again
@coontzbloontz @KevinDeLury Respect your opinion but Newbury brings MUCH more toughness than Halpern, hits more and still brings some skill. Was leading the Whale in scoring and with his assist last night I believe he equals Halpern's scoring contributions for the whole year! To me, Halpern and Boyle were clones. Newbury brings more of an edge. This of course is all my opinion.
@coontzbloontz @slapshot13j @cb1 Is it just me or has Boyle played a bit better the last couple games. His face off abilities are not in question (he's the best on the team). His speed or skating is not in question either (he has none) so really for him to be successful and stay here he needs to use that big body of his, which he's starting to do more of from my observation though he needs to plant himself in front of the net more, especially if Gabby's on his line. My 2 cents for the Kreider debate is yes he looked a ton better, and yes, I think he should be getting more minutes down at the Whale than what he is able to get up here.. Call up was too soon IMHO, but if our big guns where scoring they could have given him a few more games before the call up.
@slapshot13j let's be honest, you have a pretty biased opinion of both Kreider and Boyle. Not saying that Kreider didn't play well, but earning some extra minutes in one game isn't going to completely blow me away. It's not like he even scored, man. As cb1 said, he contributed in the same ways Boyle did last night, he played decent but didn't score. Also, Boyle won almost all of his face-offs. I think it's ridiculous for you to tell other people they don't know the sport of hockey when you overlook a lot of things.
@cb1 Boyle has played one good game in 31 games... And even that wasn't that great. Chris kreider played better last night then Boyle has played all year
@slapshot13j I hope Im wrong, but I don't see Kreider being able to contribute on a nightly basis in this league. He should be playing 20 min a game in CT.
@Herman_NYRBlog @slapshot13j Richey was good 2nd half of last year and playoffs. It's puzzling why he's been so awful this year but at age 30 and with no discernible causes I doubt he's in decline. I don't see that too many of Gabby's goals were any result of Richey last year. The chemistry seemed to be mostly lacking and Torts took Gabs off Richey's line, then re-united them later in the year and juggled from that point on. No Pivot on this team has really been able to work effectively with Gabby from my observation yet he scored 41 last year, a testament to how great a hockey player he really is, but all that seems a distant memory this year. I don't think we ever saw what he could do with the right line mates, and unfortunately we probably never will.
@slapshot13j @Herman_NYRBlog Again, this is implying Richards WILL struggle. We don't KNOW he will. He had a great 82 games last season, and 30 awful ones this season. He very well could struggle once again next season but I think it's pretty silly to call it inevitable because of a bad 30 game stretch after numerous great 82 game seasons.
@Herman_NYRBlog all I meant to be arguing was that if he stays next year the rangers are going to struggle. No one can win anything without a first line center. Which is where the rangers stand at the minute. The rangers need a first line center, unless they think step can move into that role, and they also need a first line left winger, which can hopefully be one of the young studs we have like st croix
@Herman_NYRBlog I know a lot of guys for a lot less than 6.66 million that can put up 4 goals and 12 assists in 31 games. In fact I could probably find 20 centers that do a better job. The penguins have three of them...
@Herman_NYRBlog no for 12 million dollars, I want Sidney Crosby... Or at least someone that can affect the game on a daily basis. I have yet to see Richards affect one game this yea, besides the night he got injured and the team got a jolt of energy from it, let alone on a daily basis
@Herman_NYRBlog I thought brad Richards was suppose to create goals for others? And yea it's not like Gaborik had 41 goals, or he was on the pp. no excuses he just is not what we paid for
@slapshot13j @Herman_NYRBlog He had one of his best years goal wise. Assists he can only help so much if other guys aren't producing. I don't really know what the evidence is for it being "much more likely" a decline. Thirty game sample size isn't exactly concrete. He'll get another year to prove this was a fluke. Buyout time after that.
@Herman_NYRBlog better chance its decline then just a bad year. And last year he did not play that we'll... He went down from his career point totals, but had some clutch goals. Still nowhere near what the contract paid him as a player last year, and this year it's even worse
@slapshot13j @Herman_NYRBlog I don't know how you can say that assuredly. He was 2nd in the NHL in points the second half of last season. This season has been absolutely awful but it's perfectly plausible that it's just an off year. Better off giving him another chance than signing a Nik Antropov to a silly contract.