Monday, May 28, 2012
Report: Zuccarello To Sign With KHL If No NHL Teams Come Calling
It didn't take long for Rangers news to start trickling down. A day after their season ended yesterday, word leaked out on Saturday that RW Mats Zuccarello had reportedly inked a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. Zucc's agent denied those rumors,though according to Katie Strang of ESPN, Zuccarello apparently will eventually sign with Metallurg Magnitogorsk if no teams offer him an NHL contract
Zuccarello will officially be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, when his two-year deal with the Rangers expires.
Zucc certainly won't get paid any more by a team in the NHL than what KHL teams are willing to pay him, so the fact that he's holding off on accepting a deal to play in the KHL tells me he really would love for an NHL team to give him another opportunity at cracking an NHL lineup somewhere. We'd heard rumblings over the past few years that Zuccarello wanted a trade or to be released from his contract so he could go back to play in Europe, though both he and Glen Sather denied those rumors on several occasions. Nevertheless, I get the impression from everything I've read that Zuccarello simply is tired of playing in the AHL, and I can't say I really blame him. He's proven he can dominate in Europe and the minors, but when it comes to the NHL his play has been very inconsistent. I definitely don't see a place for him on the Rangers going forward, and I think if he had any value to other NHL teams they would've explored trading for him last year. But teams can never have enough forward depth, so we'll see what happens.
I've never been that high on Zuccarello and have always felt like he was a long shot to make it in the NHL because of his small size. When you're a small player you have to have such good hands and puck control to make up for it, and Zucc really didn't flash much of either outside of a few times. I certainly hope he latches on with another NHL team, though, and can continue living his dream of playing in the NHL.