If you’re a New York Rangers fan, then you knew that this day was coming.
The rumblings started last season and got louder as this season even went on. The rumblings began booming once this particular player started to get back on track.
If you’re a Blueshirt fan, you know that I am talking about Mats Zuccarello. TSN reported on Saturday, February 23 that the Rangers traded Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
This is a sad day for the Rangers and their fans. For starters, he was the heart and soul of this hockey club for several seasons.
As a Ranger, Zuccarello hustled his tail off, worked unbelievably hard, stuck up for his teammates, was a leader both on and off the ice and was the perfect role model for up and coming Blueshirts to follow. These are the many reasons why he won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award three times.
Secondly, he was someone that produced on a consistent basis. In 509 career games with the Rangers, Zuccarello had 352 points on 113 goals and 239 assists.
Here are his point totals with the team dating back to the 2014-15 season:
– 2014-15: 49 points in 78 games
– 2015-16: 61 points in 81 games
– 2016-17: 59 points in 80 games
– 2017-18: 53 points in 80 games
– 2018-19: 37 points in 46 games
As you can see, he was one of the teams most consistent players during this stretch. He could put the puck in the net, setup teammates, play on special teams, and in every one of those situations, he found ways to create scoring opportunities and put up points.
Zuccarello was also a big hit with the fans. Sure, he is small stature, but as soon as he put on a Rangers uniform, he played like the biggest guy on the ice.
Now, there is a slight chance that come the off-season, Zuccarello ends up being signed by the Rangers as an unrestricted free agent. With that said, he is going to turn 32-years-old prior to training camp, and I am not so sure the Rangers want to give him a big contract.
No matter what happens, the Rangers and their fans should continue to root for Zuccarello in his new home for the rest of the year. As of this writing, the Stars are tied for the first Wild Card spot in the very tight Western Conference.
Zuccarello had two great chances to win a Cup with the Blueshirts. The first came in 2014 when the team lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Finals in six games, while the second opportunity came the following season when they were the league’s best team before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Stars may not be a true Cup contender this season, but if they manage to get into the postseason dance, let’s put on our Stars’ hats and root for someone who deserves nothing but the best – Mats Zuccarello.