Zuccarello Traded to Stars

The New York Rangers have traded forward Mats Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a second-round pick in 2019 and a third-round pick in 2020. According to Bob McKenzie, the first-round pick becomes a first if the Stars win two playoff rounds while the third-round pick becomes a first-round pick if Zuccarello re-signs with the Stars.

The Rangers are also retaining 30% of Zuccarello’s contract.

The 31-year-old winger has scored 11 goals and 37 points in 46 games this season and was one of multiple Rangers’ believed to be available in trade talks as the deadline approached.

Though the NHL is slowly starting to shift towards a faster and more skilled game where size doesn’t matter as much, Zuccarello faced an uphill battle on two fronts in trying to make it to the NHL. Standing at only 5 foot 8, Zuccarello was far from the typical height you’d expect out of a hockey player, especially considering he signed with the Rangers in 2010.

Mats Zuccarello Rangers
Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers, Mar. 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Another hill he had to overcome was the fact that he’s originally from Oslo, Norway. Not only did Zuccarello defy the odds, but he also became the first player from Norway to reach a Stanley Cup Final when the Rangers competed for the Championship in 2014.

That goes a long way for the Stars who not only acquired a skilled, proven commodity in Zuccarello but also a player who has proven they can overcome adversity and compete in the postseason when called upon.

In 60 postseason games in his career, Zuccarello has scored 11 goals and 31 points including four goals and seven points in 12 games in his most recent postseason berth in 2017.

Stars Making a Postseason Push

The Stars appear to be loading up for a postseason run as earlier in the day they made a trade to bolster their blue-line. The Stars would send Connor Carrick and their 2019 third-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Ben Lovejoy.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Anthony Duclair and New Jersey Devils' Ben Lovejoy
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Anthony Duclair and New Jersey Devils’ Ben Lovejoy (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Lovejoy has scored two goals and seven points in 51 games this season and also brings veteran leadership and experience to a Stars team that has yet to really experience the rigors of a deep playoff run. Lovejoy brings 63 games of postseason experience to the fold, including a Stanley Cup Championship win in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Penguins that saw him score two goals and six points.

The Stars occupy the first Wildcard spot in the Western Conference and sit six points out of third place in the Central Division. Though they currently hold a playoff spot, they’re tied with the Avalanche with 65 points and sit just one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild who are also making a postseason push despite losing captain Mikko Koivu for the season due to injury and recently trading Charlie Coyle.

The Stars two moves today indicate that they aren’t content with standing pat and letting things play out naturally. They are evidently very intent on making a push and landed one of the biggest fish on the trade market in Zuccarello to help do so.