30-Year-Old Right Wing – New York Rangers
Mats Zuccarello Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $18 million extension with the Rangers in March 2015.
Zuccarello (undisclosed) will return to the lineup for Thursday's game against the Islanders, Colin Stephenson of Newsday reports.
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Mats Zuccarello: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There are few NHL players shorter than Zuccarello – but there are also pretty few who are more productive. A brilliant creator on offense, he set new career marks in goals (26) and points (61) last season, leading the Rangers in the latter category. The key was Zucc’s resurgence on the man advantage (seven goals, 18 points) after a 2014-15 in which he scored zero power-play goals. With his cap-friendly contract and high-end playmaking skills, Zuccarello will remain a fixture on the Blueshirts’ top line, which should make him a popular fantasy selection. It wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see him end up right around 60 points again.
Fantasy owners who entered last year looking for a growth season from Zuccarello ended up being disappointed, as his production dropped to 49 points from the 59 he gathered in 2013-14, but the 5-foot-7 Norwegian remains a top-six forward on one of the league's best teams. A shoulder injury seemed to sap his effectiveness early last year, and although he came on strong toward the end of the season, he suffered a brain contusion after taking a puck to the head in the Rangers' first-round playoff series against Pittsburgh, which knocked him out for the remainder of the postseason and even temporarily rendered him unable to speak. However, he’s seemingly already recovered from that ailment and is expected to be ready in time for training camp. Zuccarello’s ice time remained steady at about 17 minutes last year, but his power-play time dropped for the second consecutive season; he’ll likely need to find his way to the top man-advantage unit to have a good chance at cracking 60 points for the first time.
Having already eclipsed the 50-point total twice overseas, few can say 'The Norwegian Hobbit's team-leading 59 points (40 assists) were completely unexpected. Add in four game-winning goals, Zuccarello's durability (77 regular season games), speed and offensive output having seamlessly continued in the Rangers' postseason run and we wouldn't rule out increased ice time for the 5-foot-7 forward, possibly including more power-play minutes as a top-six winger. Zuke's price tag at this year’s draft will likely come as quite a shock and will probably be worth the gamble.
Avoiding arbitration with forward Zuccarello, the Rangers agreed to one year contract, reportedly worth $1.15 million. After playing most of the season with Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the KHL, Zuccarello returned to the Rangers late in the 2012-13 season and had three goals and eight points in 15 regular-season games. He also contributed a goal and seven assists in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Through parts of three seasons as a Ranger, the speedy winger 11 goals and 34 points in 67 games. He could end up as a late-round draft on deeper leagues, but is very streaky. Buyer beware.
Zuccarello was frustrated by his limited playing time in 2011-12 and signed a 1-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia's KHL. He is eligible to return to the Rangers as a restricted free agent in 2013-14, but he likely won't be on any fantasy rosters for 2012-13.
After leading the Swedish Elite League in scoring, the Rangers signed Zuccarello for two years last May. He has fantastic hands and on-ice vision but opened the past season in the minors, specifically to learn the defensive side of the North American game. Recalled mid-season, he was a constant spark in creating offensive chances, having fired 72 shots in 42 games. He also set up 17 scores, which is the kind of production you want to see from your young fantasy defensemen. One might wonder how long Zuccarello's small, 5-foot-7, 174-pound frame can withstand NHL pounding, but a full season with the parent club will go a long way to determining his future prospects.
The ï¿½Norwegian Hobbitï¿½ will take his game to the bright lights on Broadway after two excellent seasons in the Swedish Elite League. Zuccarello-Aasen was the league MVP after totaling 64 points in 55 games last year. That coming after he put up 12 goals and 40 points in just 35 games as a rookie for MODO. Zuccarello-Aasen also shined playing for Norway in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and several teams noticed, with the Rangers quickly scooping up the talented youngster. Mats will be 23 years old in September and should be given every opportunity to crack the Rangersï¿½ lineup. There is an outside chance he finds himself on the wing of the second line, which could result in a 40-point season. While the Norwegian winger has plenty of skill and great hands, the only potential road block seems to be his size. Listed at just 5ï¿½7ï¿½, Zuccarello-Aasen will have to make a major adjustment to play in the much more physical NHL.