It has been a season of ups and downs for New York Rangers’ forward Mats Zuccarello.
He’s had to deal with injuries, trade rumors, had trouble producing, and looked like he was distracted. This all added up to a Zuccarello, 31, that Blueshirt fans had never seen before.
Fast forward to now and things are starting to change for the little engine that could. He’s back to putting up points, being noticeable on every shift, and being a leader on the ice in every way possible for this hockey club.
As I mentioned above, Zuccarello is starting to put up points again. He currently has 27 points (eight goals and 19 assists) in 36 games, which probably makes one wonder what his point total would be like had he not missed time due to an injury.
Zuccarello has been with this team for a long time and in just about every season, he has put up solid offensive numbers. In his last five seasons, he has averaged about 56 points.
This shows that when he is healthy, he is one of the club’s most consistent forwards. In fact, he’s been one of the team’s most consistent players in their last five games.
In games against the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils (all wins), he has put up 11 points with three goals and eight assists. He’s been a big part of this team’s current hot streak.
This could clearly be seen in his team’s 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, January 31. Not only did he pick-up three assists, but he set up Mika Zibanejad’s hat trick game-winning goal with an unbelievable backhand pass.
Because Zuccarello is producing again, he is playing with a lot more confidence than he had in the beginning of the season. He’s going hard to the net, he’s making more plays with the puck that he had trouble making earlier in the season, and he looks like the Zuccarello he has always been since joining the Rangers.
When he plays with confidence, he is easily one of the team’s best players because he ends up producing in a big way. This is has been very easy to see in his team’s last five games.
Zuccarello is also someone that makes his linemates better players. It is clear that he has good chemistry with both Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, two players that have scored a lot of goals this season.
While there have been talks that the team is going to trade Zuccarello, one has to wonder if that is really a good idea. We are talking about one of the team’s most consistent offensive players as well as the club’s heart and soul.
I understand that the franchise needs to make some changes in order to provide a better future. I also understand that doing these things will help this team become contenders again sooner rather than later.
With that said, may be trading Zuccarello is not the best idea. He should really be the next team’s captain and be someone that helps guide and mentor this franchise into the future.
Should Zuccarello go at the deadline, he will not only be missed by the team’s passionate fans, and that’s putting it lightly, but he will be missed by the franchise as a whole.
With him finding his game again, let’s hope that Rangers’ management finds a way to keep him in Ranger blue.
*Photo: New York Daily News