This one really hurts to write. With the NHL trade deadline rapidly approaching on February 25th, the reality of Mats Zuccarello being a member of the New York Rangers beyond that date are very, very bleak.
The beloved winger from Norway is not only having one of his best seasons as a Blueshirt (tied for his best season on a point-per-game basis) but he is also on an expiring deal. The rebuilding Rangers don’t seem to have Zucc – a top six forward with playoff experience – as part of their equation, making him the perfect rental for a team looking at a Cup run this summer.
On the business side of things, #36’s value has been on the rise for the past few weeks with his improved play . Zucc should be able to fetch at least a first rounder plus thus making a potential deal worth the hurt.
On the fan side of things, this will be a brutal loss. Outside of Henrik, what Ranger player has been more universally loved than Zucc the past 15 years? I’ll wait… The answer is Zucc and it isn’t even close. Between the “Zuuuccccc” chants at the Garden (and at away arenas!) to the heart the dude plays with despite being the smallest guy on the ice on nearly every occasion, Zuccarello just resonates with Rangers fans on a different level. Also, I’m a FIRM believer that if Zucc didn’t get that terrifying skull fracture during the 2015 playoffs, the Rangers would’ve won the Cup.
It’s time to understand that the end is coming for our beloved Norwegian Hobbit wearing the Rangers sweater. I’m going on Sunday to MSG to say “goodbye” one last time before he’s moved. I’ll be rocking the #36 Zucc jersey once more and it’s great to know I can wear that in 20 years with pride. Here are just a few memories of #36 to make us smile:
I’m not ready for this….