The New York Rangers are nearing a contract extension with defenseman Marc Staal on a 6-year-deal. The Rangers have chosen to make the defenseman from Thunder Bay, Ontario their number one priority in regards to pending free agents. There is only so much money to go around in the salary cap era, and the Rangers are still near the salary cap ceiling.
With a huge raise in store for center Derek Stepan, the teams most valuable forward, a decision is going to have to be made by the trade deadline regarding the future of Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello has been very fair in regards to contract negotiations in the past, accepting 1-year deals, and it appears to be a stronger possibility with the new contract to Staal that the Rangers do not resign him this summer.
If the Rangers do not plan to resign Zuccarello then it is best to move him at the trade deadline for a player with a low salary cap hit that can help the team win hockey games. I will be the first to admit that my article suggesting sending Zuccarello to the Lightning was simply wishful thinking. It makes the most sense to make this trade with a Western Conference team so the Rangers are not helping any Eastern Conference rivals improve their roster. It’s a tough market out there, and there are three teams I believe the Rangers can reach a fair and salary-cap friendly deal for Zuccarello with. All three of these teams are contenders in the West and would give Zuccarello a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup. The three teams are the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, and the Anaheim Ducks. Here are the three suggested deals.
Mats Zuccarello for Andrew Shaw C/RW and a 1st round pick in 2015
Sure skill wise Zuccarello has Shaw beat by a mile, but Andrew Shaw would be a valuable third line center or wing for the Rangers. He will hit, fight, block shots, crash the net, get under the other team’s skin, and compete hard.
Shaw set a career high last year in goals with 20 for the Chicago Blackhawks. He is only 23- years- old and has plenty of playoff experience and a flair for the dramatic. It was Andrew Shaw who scored the overtime winner in 3OT during the epic Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.
He currently makes $1.5 million per year and is not due for a huge raise at the end of his contract. He is a cap-friendly option that would cost the Rangers less than $3 million per season for a gritty, hardworking player that has won a Stanley Cup. Could Mats Zuccarello be headed for the Windy City in a few months?
Mats Zuccarello for Colin Wilson C/LW
Colin Wilson is having his best season as a professional this year for the Nashville Predators. This trade is by far the most unlikely out of the three scenarios, but it was worth taking a look at. Wilson currently has 30 points and is a +22 this season.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 14, 2015
He seems to be figuring things out at the NHL level for the Nashville Predators. The American from Greenwich, Connecticut is 25-years-old and is in the final year of his contract for Nashville. His current salary cap hit is $2.5 million and his name has come up in trade talks in the past.
Nashville could use a creative play-maker such as Zuccarello in their lineup. He would fit right into Peter Laviolette’s team and offensive system in a top 6 role, and maybe even on a line with James Neal. The 6’1, 216 lb Wilson, could bring size and skill to the Rangers lineup.
Colin Wilson had 4 points in the first 15 games. Since then he has 21 points in 24 games and 12 points in the last 10 games. #Preds
— Ryan Porth (@PorthGame) January 10, 2015
Mats Zuccarello for Kyle Palmieri RW and a 2nd round pick in 2015
This is the trade I like the most for both sides. Kyle Palmieri, while born in Smithtown, New York, grew up in Montvale, New Jersey as a New York Rangers fan. Palmieri spoke about how he became a Rangers fan back in the fall of 2013 when he scored the game-winning goal for the Ducks at the Garden in front of friends and family.
“My dad was a Rangers fan and I kind of just took to them. I loved the atmosphere here after seeing my first game. I was a Rangers fan ever since,” said Palmieri.
The 23-year-old Palmieri is a player that would fit right into the Rangers lineup on the 2nd or 3rd line and would be a very good addition to the team. Palmieri carries a reasonable cap hit of $1.4 million. He has only played in 20 games this season, but has been very consistent with 8 goals and 5 assists.
Palmieri knows what it means to put on the Rangers sweater as part of an original-six franchise and would compete hard each night. Palmieri is an excellent skater and would add even more speed to an already fast team in the New York Rangers. He is playing in his 3rd season and has a lot of upside.
I think lost in the commotion last night I forgot to note that this year's edition of Kyle Palmieri is the best I've ever seen.
— #TrevorZegrasFanClub (@DucksFanZone) January 12, 2015
Palmieri was the Ducks 1st round pick (27th overall) in 2009. Mats Zuccarello could get an opportunity to play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Anaheim.