Larry Brooks spoke with Glen Sather yesterday prior to the Rangers 4-3 loss to Winnipeg, and the Rangers GM said that he is looking into re-signing Mats Zuccarello once his KHL season ends:
“I’m definitely interested in talking to Zuke,” Sather said before the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Jets last night. “I’ve always liked him as a player. We’ll see what happens.”
It’s worth noting that the Rangers own Zuccarello’s NHL rights, as they tendered a qualifying offer to him way back in June. That offer came after Zuccarello send goodbye to the Rangers in favor of the KHL. It’s also worth noting that Zuccarello’s KHL deal has an NHL out-clasue should the miniature Norwegian decide to return to the Rangers.
Bringing Zuccarello back to the Rangers would be an interesting decision, as The Hobbit has been a hot topic for Ranger fans since they signed him in 2010. There is no doubt that Zuccarello is skilled, but he always appeared to be a fringe player with the Rangers organization. Despite that appearance, Zuccarello still managed a line of 8-18-26 in 52 games with the Rangers. Of those 26 points, 11 came on the powerplay. Clearly, Slats would like to bring Zucc back to inject some life on the powerplay.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Zuccarello for the Rangers. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is skilled, but as of last year he just didn’t fit in with the club’s top two lines. That said, we could be entering an age where Zuccarello is useful as a fourth line player at even strength, but a top powerplay contributor. We’ve seen powerplay specialists on defense (Marc-Andrew Bergeron), so it’s entirely possible to have powerplay specialist forwards.
The other tidbit that Brooksie mentions is that Slats is going to look to bring Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg to North America after their respective SEL seasons end. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be joining the NHL club, but they could join the Whale for the rest of the year and any potential playoff run. Both kids are signed to their ELCs (three-year deals signed in June), so getting them under contract isn’t an issue. The issue is getting them out of their SEL contracts. I believe Fast(h) has a year left on his contract.