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Report: Mats Zuccarello bolts Rangers for two-year KHL contract

May 26, 2012, 10:06 AM EDT

Mats Zuccarello Getty Images

The New York Rangers didn’t have to wait long to see their roster turn over after being eliminated.

According to IIHF Communications Director Szymon Szemberg, forward Mats Zuccarello signed a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. The Metallurg site confirms the signing (link in Russian) and for the Rangers that instantly eliminates one of their better offensive depth players.

Zuccarello was called up late in the season and provided New York with an offensive spark when they needed it but after breaking his wrist, he didn’t see the ice again. Zuccarello was healthy enough to play for the Rangers in the previous two games, but couldn’t crack the lineup even with the team in search of more goals against New Jersey.

Zuccarello had two goals and an assist in 10 NHL games this season and leaves the NHL with one of the better nicknames (“The Hobbit”) we’ve seen in a long time. Good luck in Rivendell, I mean Russia, Mats.

Update (11:00 a.m. ET): Zuccarello’s agent tells Knut Arne Hansen that no deal has been signed yet, but Zuccarello has offers from Russia to play. (VGNett – Norwegian)

Update (12:25 p.m. ET): Zuccarello tweets saying there’s a lot of rumors but he doesn’t know where he’s playing next year.

  1. theageofquarrel - May 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    He wanted to get away from Fonzie Tortorellas jammy balls.

  2. roderider - May 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    via Justin, Zuccarello’s agent has denied that Zucc has signed in Russia.

    He claims that there have been offers from Russia but nothing has been signed yet.

    His agent notes that Zucc is expecting to get offers from the Rangers and other clubs and hopes that they will be one-way contracts and not two-way contracts.

  3. homerx - May 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    I wonder why they didn’t use him when they needed scoring. It may not have made a difference but he’s quick and shifty, he may have giving them a boost. Could you imagine Hagelin, Kreider and Zuccarello on the same line?

    Anyway, this team is young and will only get stronger provided they make the correct moves in the offseason.

    • anthonykornheiser - May 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      agree with getting stronger. Their ceiling is really high
      the issue with that line you suggested is no center

  4. mmazzzzzz - May 26, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I remember a couple of other players the Rangers gave up on because of their size. Anyone remember Dave Gagner or Marc Savard? They turned out to be quite productive with other smarter organizations. The Rangers are foolish. A player with his skill set doesn’t come around everyday.

    • danphipps01 - May 26, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      The Rangers are anything but foolish – their grit-and-toughness approach carried them six games into the conference finals. If anything, it was the small, skill-based guys who were found wanting – Hagelin and Gaborik especially. I don’t think I’d want to lose Zuccarello if I were Sather – I’d offer him a one-year, one-way contract and basically treat it as his chance to cement himself in the lineup or part ways at year’s end. But the Rangers, if anything, need to be focusing on more guys in the vein of Callahan and Kreider right now.

      I’m not discrediting smaller, skill-based guys at all. Teams need skilled finishers. It’s a necessary role. But the Rangers, I think, would benefit more from a (I hate to join this stupid choir, but…) Rick Nash-type player more than anything right now. Not Rick Nash specifically, he’d completely destroy their ability to keep the team together long-term, but a bigger finisher instead of a small one. A Hartnell or a Horton or something like that. Those are better examples of what I’m thinking of.

      • chip56 - May 26, 2012 at 5:33 PM

        It’s not a size thing with Zuccarello – he’s just pretty weak defensively and also was coming off injury, not a good combo against the Devils. Plus, I’m not sure who they would have taken out of the lineup to make room for him – Hagelin?

      • danphipps01 - May 26, 2012 at 8:27 PM

        It’s an idea. Hagelin doesn’t really seem to have any obvious excuse for his performance. Experience, I guess, but hey, I didn’t hear Kreider complaining. Still, Hagelin’s got potential enough that I’d rather hang on to him.

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