Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to a special bonus blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. With a game on Sunday afternoon, this will be the second of three blogs on this site, all within a 24 hour time period! You know I always preach against cutting up a million topics into a 96478963786378943 blogs, but when it comes to Mats Zuccarello, I feel he deserves a whole blog dedicated just to him. He was that valuable to this franchise and to this fan base.
In case you missed it, here is my Rangers vs Devils game review, which was originally posted on Saturday afternoon, just an hour before the news of the trade of Mats Zuccarello:
NYR/NJD 2/23 Review: Rangers Begin The Post Zucc/Hayes Era With a Win Over The Woeful Devils, Time For Kreider To Earn The “C”, Strome & DeMAGAngelo Continue To Impress, Another Strong Showing for the KING of KINGS & More From A Bittersweet Game at M$G
After finishing my game review on the Rangers/Devils game from Saturday afternoon, I settled onto my couch, and got ready for the Flyers vs Penguins Stadium Series outdoor game. Just as I sat down, my phone started shaking and vibrating in a violent manner. As I opened up social media, I saw my Twitter & Facebook notifications increasing like a blue chip stock. The news was in – the Rangers officially traded Mats Zuccarello.
Officially, about two hours after the news first broke, the Rangers said this:
While not reported by the Rangers, the reporters from Canada had the full details of the trade. On a quick sidebar, isn’t it funny for all the rumor-mongering Larry Brooks does, all the major Ranger trades are first reported by Canadian reporters such as Bob McKenzie & Darren Dreger? I’ve been saying this for years – all the news comes out of Toronto.
According to the Canadian scribes, the terms of the deal are as follows:
– Dallas acquires Mats Zuccarello.
– New York receives the Stars 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft and the 3rd round pick in the 2020 draft. Both of these picks have conditions. The 2019 second round pick will become a first round pick if Dallas makes the Western Conference Final. The 2020 third round pick becomes a first round pick if Dallas re-signs Zuccarello.
– As part of the deal, the Rangers retain 30% of Zuccarello’s salary, which for the remainder of this season, is something like $300,000. Chump change.
In other words, as Ranger fans, the best Stanley Cup scenario would be the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars. If that was to happen, the Rangers would have both the 31st and 32nd overall picks of the 2019 NHL draft, in addition to their own first round pick.
Now let me break the trade down, through my eyes, before getting into all the sentimental stuff.
For the Dallas Stars, I think this trade is a WIN for them. They didn’t have to give up much. In my opinion, I don’t see the Stars going to the Western Conference Final, but that is not of my concern. I think this is a good move on their end, because you can slot Zuccarello right in there with Jamie Benn & Tyler Seguin. A line like that could do as much damage, if not more, than the line the Rangers HAD (hard to say “had” here) with Kreider, Zuccarello and Zibanejad.
In an open Western Conference, the Stars are currently the first wild card. However, one bad losing stretch could have them out of the playoffs, as teams like the Wild, the Avalanche, the Coyotes and the Blackhawks are all on the heels of the Stars. In theory, Zuccarello should help the offensive output for the Stars and help them to protect their position as the first wild card. In a best case scenario, Zuccarello could help propel the Stars to a third place finish in the Central Division.
With the way the Western Conference is, while there are good teams at top, no team looks dominant, as say the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the Eastern Conference. So it’s not impossible for the Stars to make it to the Western Conference. As I said, personally, I don’t see it happening, but it’s not out of question either.
The Stars just got a player with tons of playoff experience and a guy who gives it his all. The only question mark is how Zuccarello reacts to the trade, as this is all new to him. There could be an adjustment period. I mean after all, does he have to get a cowboy hat now?
When it comes to the Rangers end of things, let’s get the easy thing out of the way first. The Rangers retain 30% of Zuccarello’s salary for the remainder of the season. This means absolutely nothing. I can not stress that any more. Let me say it again, THE RANGERS RETAINING 30% OF ZUCC’S SALARY MEANS NOTHING.
Seriously, I saw fans upset about the Rangers keeping some of Zucc’s money on the books. I don’t know why they were so upset about this. Zucc is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and the Rangers aren’t trying to make the playoffs this season. What does it matter if the Rangers hold on to some of his salary? It’s not like the Rangers are gearing up to make a blockbuster trade, where they need every available penny to stay under the salary cap.
As far as the picks, eh, I’m not sold on it. When this trade was first announced, I saw Ranger fans going bat shit. The reaction on Twitter made Black Friday shopping seem tame and lame. Part of this is because Twitter fans skew young and for many fans, Zuccarello is their first favorite player to be traded from their favorite team. Shit, I was much older than most of those fans are today when Brian Leetch was traded and I was extremely furious about that trade then. I still am mad about that trade today! So yes, I get the extreme emotional reactions that some fans had or are having right now.
Furthermore, when you compare this Zucc trade to past beloved players such as Ryan McDonagh and Ryan Callahan, you had other NHL players going the other way. In this trade, Zuccarello was traded for “to be determined.” A trade like this, for a player of Zucc’s name value, just feels a bit like “Old Yeller.”
In my previous blogs, when it came to the potential trades of Zuccarello and Hayes, I made the reference of “It looks like the Rangers are throwing away winning lotto tickets for the chance to load up on $2 scratch-offs.”
For the younger generation, I know many of you guys probably don’t remember FuncoLand. Think of Gamestop today, but much worse. When I saw what the Rangers got back for Zuccarello, I felt like the Rangers traded in a once great game, like a “Grand Theft Auto III” and got pennies back on what they once paid for it. For non-gamers, it’s like selling an expensive last generation iPhone and getting back a measly percentage of what you paid for it.
Here’s the deal – in the BEST CASE scenario, the Stars make the Western Conference Final and Zuccarello re-signs with the Stars in the off-season. That turns both picks into first round picks. However, keep in mind, what will the worth of these picks be if both of these things happen? If the Stars make the WCF, that means, at the very best, the Rangers will get the 29th overall pick. In other words, you’re not getting a top ten pick here.
If Zuccarello re-signs with Dallas, the Rangers need a similar scenario of what’s going on between Ottawa & Colorado right now. If you haven’t been paying attention, Ottawa, which is the biggest mess in the NHL today, traded their first round pick to Colorado for Matt Duchene. (Even worse, Ottawa just traded Duchene on Friday!) As a result, Colorado owns Ottawa’s first round pick. As things stand now, Ottawa is the worst team in the league and has the best odds at landing the first overall pick of the 2019 draft. That pick will become Colorado’s pick! Talk about a win-win deal for Colorado!
In other words, the Rangers better pray to the hockey gods that Zuccarello re-signs with Dallas and that Dallas has one of the worst seasons in the history of the NHL during the 2019-2020 season. What’s the likelihood of that happening?
Obviously, I don’t have access to Jeff Gorton’s cell phone or computer, so I have no clue what deals were offered to him for Zuccarello. I don’t know if Gorton felt like he had to make this deal sooner than later. Perhaps Gorton felt he had to make this deal now, or risk getting a lesser of a reward, come Monday at the final bell.
What concerns me, as a Rangers fan, is that this team has historically been terrible at the NHL draft. Sure, there are a few winners here and there, but more times than not, this team just bombs at the draft, especially with Glen Sather around. Furthermore, what is most likely, is that the Stars, if they even make the playoffs, are one and done and Zuccarello doesn’t re-sign with Dallas.
In fact, in what I think would be entertaining and more probable than Dallas making the Western Conference Final this season, is that the best friends of Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and Derrick Brassard, go all NBA during this upcoming period of free agency and all sign with the same team. Come on Ranger fans, tell me that wouldn’t pull at your heart strings a little bit!
My immediate reaction to this Zuccarello trade is that I don’t think the Rangers got enough back. I don’t think either condition will work out for the Rangers. I don’t trust the Rangers to draft well. It would’ve been nice if the Rangers got a prospect back, someone we could all look up and follow. Furthermore, and as talked about in my Rangers/Devils blog linked above, while I understand the “business move” of this trade, what’s the fucking point when you’re ignoring the fact that you’re still continuing to build around a 37 year old goaltender? I rather four more years of Zucc than one more year of Lundqvist.
Speaking of Lundqvist, here’s his take on the trade:
Due to their tenure and Zuccarello having all his friends previously traded off the team, Lundqvist and Zuccarello became buddies last season. Now Lundqvist has no more buddies left, which is another problem with the Rangers – Lundqvist is just too old for this team and now has nothing in common with any of his teammates.
I found it hilarious how Lundqvist was waxing poetically about Zuccarello and about how “unique” Zuccarello is. If I could ask Lundqvist one question about this, my question would be, “do you find Zuccarello unique because he gave this franchise a hometown deal?”
Just remember folks, as the New York Post runs their sob stories about Lundqvist losing his little buddy, it was Zuccarello, NOT Lundqvist, who took a hometown deal with this team four years ago. It was Zuccarello, NOT Lundqvist, who showed everyone how much he wanted to play here, by taking less money and less guaranteed years to play in New York. Unlike Lundqvist, Zuccarello didn’t get a no-move clause either, despite nearly every Rangers defensemen getting one of these clauses!
During Lundqvist’s last contract negotations, he held up the team for money and demanded the coach be fired. Sather caved, as at the time, he had no other face to put on marketing materials. The franchise has been suffering ever since and they are now currently handcuffed to a 37 year old goalie with bottom of the league stats.
Oh, and let’s not forget how prior to his contract negotiations, Lundqvist said he “wanted to win at all costs.” What he failed to add was, “as long as it’s not costing me any money.”
There are two things about this Zucc trade that really bother me and they bother me for different reasons.
As mentioned in past blogs, hockey is a different sport from the other three sports. There is no timeout, where you then pull a player from the field or court. It just sucks that Zuccarello didn’t get the send-off he deserved. The Rangers beat the Devils, were on their way to Washington and just like that, see ya Zucc, here’s a 5 gallon hat and a pair of spurs for your troubles.
The other thing that bothered me, was not of a fan-related issue, but of a hockey-related issue. Again, the Rangers only got back a second and a third round draft pick. How did a concussion prone and an obvious at-the-end-of-his-career Rick Nash bring back a much healthier return? At the time of their trades, Zuccarello was the better player and easily the more durable of the pair of ex-Ranger alternate captains.
To be fair, you really can’t judge a trade like this until a few years down the line, because you don’t know how these draft picks will work out or if the Rangers trade these picks for a different haul. I think the emotional attachment and appreciation for Zuccarello just makes it harder to accept, even if we all knew it was coming.
The Rangers traded one of the biggest fan favorites of the last two decades and in return, got no faces back. I think that is the problem for a lot of Ranger fans right now. Draft picks are nice, but there is now no immediate hope, as there would be if the Rangers got back a prospect. There’s just nothing to look forward to right now and this is a city where we all want instant gratification.
Ever since Larry Brooks was used like a messenger pigeon by Glen Sather and put out the “Zuccarello and Hayes could become the Aroldis Chapman’s of the New York Rangers” theory out there, it’s all I’ve been reading about.
If you’re unaware of the Chapman deal with the Yankees, the Yankees signed Chapman and then when things went south, the Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs. The Cubs then won the World Series with Chapman and then in free agency, Chapman immediately re-signed with the Yankees. This is the hope and scenario that some fans hold for Zuccarello.
I’m here to tell you, that at least in my opinion, this isn’t happening, especially with Mats Zuccarello.
Let’s get the easy thing out of the way first – how many Rangers were traded at the deadline, only to return to the team during free agency in the same calendar year? 0.
Furthermore, if Gorton was to bring back Zuccarello, that means he actively hurt himself from acquiring the Stars first round pick in the 2020 draft.
This is a business, and if the Rangers and Zuccarello couldn’t work out a team friendly deal NOW, what makes you think they will work out a team friendly deal in July? Zuccarello already gave the team a team-friendly deal during his last go around. This is now his time to do what’s best for Mats Zuccarello and he should do what’s best for him. Teams look at players like stocks (with the exception being Henrik Lundqvist, as he can do no wrong in the eyes of management) and will move players as needed. At this present time, Zuccarello has to do what’s best for Mats Zuccarello and signing with the Rangers for less money and less years isn’t what’s best for Zuccarello. Essentially, he’s got to look out for number 1 and he will get a better deal elsewhere in the league.
If you’re a Rangers fan clinging on to this theory that Zucc will comeback, I get your strong fanaticism, but please take a breath – it’s not going to happen.
Mats Zuccarello will go down as a perfect candidate for my New York Rangers “Rink of Honor”. (For more on that, check out: http://doinow.com/nyrroh/)
While I think some fans need to pump the brakes on the “ZUCC FOR THE RAFTERS” talk, there is no denying that Zucc, like so many great Rangers before him, like Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Callahan, Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu, Gump Worsley, Chuck Rayner and many others, Zucc was another Ranger that really connected with Ranger fans.
Zuccarello will be missed both professionally and personally by Ranger fans. Like other ex-Rangers that bonded with the fan base, I think he’s one of the guys that you will still follow and hope that he achieves his dream of winning the Stanley Cup one day.
It truly is a shame that the Zuccarello becomes the latest BUSINESS trade, as opposed to a HOCKEY trade, for the New York Rangers. If this was still the no-cap era, I think the Rangers retain Zuccarello. In fact, if there was no salary cap right now, I think Zuccarello would’ve had the “C” on his jersey. (Then again, the Rangers probably don’t trade Ryan McDonagh if there was no salary cap. Blah, this is all hypothetical bullshit anyway!)
Zuccarello finishes off his Rangers career with 509 games played, 113 goals and with 352 total points. During his run on Broadway, Zuccarello was a key member in one Stanley Cup Final appearance and was also on the roster for three separate Eastern Conference Finals. In his eight seasons in New York, he reached the playoffs seven times and became the greatest Norwegian player in the history of the NHL.
There are too many great Mats Zuccarello moments to list. In fact, as I reflect, a lot of the seasons blend into one. That could also be due to my old age! That said, I will remember Zuccarello as a great Ranger and someone who gave it his all. I’m proud to own his jersey. I’m proud to have an autographed stick in my little home office where I do these blogs. I’m proud to have rooted him on during his career.
The Dallas Stars get a hell of a player for their playoff run. For the Rangers in the Lundqvist era, another beloved Ranger is whacked by Ranger management. That’s just the way the Rangers do business.
Thank you Zucc for the memories.
And for those wondering, the Rangers head to Dallas on March 5th. Talk about appointment TV!
I’ll be back later today with NYR/WSH review.
As always, thanks for reading, thank you Zuccarello and…
“LET’S GO RANGERS!”
@NYCTHEMIC on Twitter
PS: This had to be a tough day for my buddies Al Demauro and Jennifer Eberhart. I dedicate this blog to you! Ha!