Six weeks after we started the series, we are finally at an end. With this profile on Mats Zuccarello the last in our 47 part series, we draw to a conclusion the preview of the Rangers’ season.
Over this series we have profiled each player that the Rangers have under contract, whether they be in New York, Hartford or further afield. Now all there is to do is sit back and wait for tomorrow’s season opener.
Despite never having played a game for a North American league, Zuccarello comes to the Rangers with a pedigree of sorts. The 5′ 7″ Norwegian born winger had already made his name in the Swedish Elisterien, picking up the Golden Helmet award for the league’s best player.
His three goal performance for an overmatched Norwegian side in the World Championships this past May, further proved he had the skills, if not the size to match it with the world’s best.
So when the Rangers came calling with a two-year contract offer, Zuccarello eagerly accepted and made plans to spend the season with the organization. In camp, the young Norwegian quickly made an impression, and was one of two forwards – along with Dale Weise – to be called up for the preseason finale as Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik were given the night off.
Zuccarello picked up his first goal in that game, but will open the season this Saturday in Hartford where he figures to be one of the go-to guys that will replace Corey Locke and P.A. Parenteau as offensive leaders.
As to his prospects for making it to the NHL. They initially look good, and it appears that Tortorella is more than willing to give him a chance if the opportunity arises.
Whether there’s an opportunity perhaps remains to be seen however. The Rangers already have 14 forwards on the roster, and two more on injured reserve – though it remains to be seen if Vinny Prospal manages to play this season.
If reserves Kennedy and White are somehow removed or dealt, then the chances are certainly improved for Zuccarello, but in the meantime he’ll have to content himself with adjusting to the North American game in Hartford.
Team: MoDo Hockey (SEL)
Stats: 12 goals, 28 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 35 games
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 22 goals, 42 assists and 54 penalty minutes in 60 games
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes in 8 games
The Guldhjlmen (Golden Helmet) award is given to the best player in Swedish hockey. Henrik Lundqvist is the only other Ranger player or prospect to win the award since it started in 1986.