Monday, March 25, 2013

Reports: Rangers Re-Sign LW Mats Zuccarello

In the Rangers' latest move as they continue to retool their roster, the Rangers have reportedly agreed to a contract with LW Mats Zuccarello, according to The Bergen Record's Andrew Gross. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet, but Zuccarello had previously said it would have to be a one-way, two-year deal for him to return to the Rangers since he still had an additional year on his KHL contract following this season.

The Rangers have yet to officially announce the deal, but Zuke's agent, Erik Ryman, sent out a Tweet earlier today in Norwegian that loosely translates to "Zuccarello is looking forward to getting the chance again to show what he can do in the NHL."

Unlike other international free agents, Mats Zuccarello does not have to pass through waivers since he is still technically Rangers property and was placed on the restricted list lat the end of last season.

The re-signing of Zuccarello is the third roster move the Rangers have made within the last three days, after they waived C Jeff Halpern (claimed by the Montreal Canadiens) and D/RW Stu Bickel (cleared waivers; assigned to the Connecticut Whale). Gross, who has been all over the Rangers being interested in reuniting with Zuccarello since his KHL season ended, seems to believe that Zuke's signing could be a precursor to a bigger move prior to the April 3 trade deadline, noting that "San Jose Sharks scout John Ferguson Jr. has been at the majority of Rangers’ games this season and surely Tortorella would love a reunion with his former Lightning power-play quarterback Dan Boyle." We shall see.

Zuccarello has posted eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points in 52 career NHL games with the Rangers, with 10 of those assists coming on the power play. He immediately adds playmaking ability to the lineup and should provide some secondary scoring that the Rangers are in dire need of. If nothing else, he provides an upgrade on what they previously had and doesn't cost and picks or players to acquire. Zuccarello hasn't played in a few weeks since his KHL season ended, so I'm not quite sure when we might see him suit up. With J.T. Miller nursing a wrist injury, it would probably make sense for Zuccarello to replace Taylor Pyatt in the lineup, who has just one goal and zero assists in his last 23 games, including 13 straight without a point. That would allow Kris Newbury to remain in the lineup centering the fourth line after a strong showing yesterday against the Capitals until Miller is able to return. The Rangers, of course, could always opt to send Miller back down to the Whale, too, given that he hasn't scored a goal in 20 games, although John Tortorella has been impressed with the youngster's two-way play lately.


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