Why The Lightning Should Trade For Mats Zuccarello

The Lightning should be doing everything they can in a few months at the beginning of March to make a few more upgrades for a deep playoff run. Finding someone to play with Stamkos and acquiring another defenseman should be the top priorities. What players are out there right now? One player that I see being a perfect fit in Tampa Bay and with Steven Stamkos is yet another New York Ranger. I am talking about 5’7 Norwegian Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers.

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Mats Zuccarello would be a perfect fit playing with Steven Stamkos (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Zuccarello’s 2010 Olympics got him an NHL Contract

Zuccarello made his NHL debut in 2010 after signing with the Rangers following the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. He is a small, fast forward, with a very good skill set and elite vision and passing ability. Plays like this is what got him noticed by several NHL clubs. At the time he was the leading scorer in the Swedish Elite League.


   New York Has Salary Cap Issues To Deal  With

Zuccarello is a gritty player for his size and will always battle for pucks in the corner and along the wall. Each year, despite constant improvements to his game, the Rangers always follow with a 1-year-deal. Zuccarello had his best season last year when he led the Rangers in points with 19 goals, 40 assists, 59 points, and a +11 rating.

He was rewarded with another 1-year-contract for $3.5 million per season. Why would the Rangers trade a player that currently plays on their top line? Well, the New York Rangers are right near the salary cap ceiling.

The club has just over $1 million in cap space  available right now. They have a lot of players to resign this offseason that include top center and restricted free agent Derek Stepan, unrestricted free agent Martin St. Louis, unrestricted free agent defenseman Marc Staal, and restricted free agents Carl Hagelin, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, and John Moore.

All players are going to want bigger contracts and the biggest contract will be the one of Derek Stepan. Stepan who currently makes $3 million per season should be expecting at minimum double the salary he is making now if not more.

Stepan is arguably the most valuable forward on the Rangers. Stepan has developed into a very good two-way center that plays in all situations for the Rangers.

Depending on how high the cap increases for the 2015-2016 season will determine GM Glen Sather’s options. Someone is going to have to be moved and despite all his successes, I have a feeling the Rangers will look to at least shop Zuccarello this upcoming March. If a career season only earned him another 1-year-deal, the two sides might have some differences next summer as Zuccarello has not put up the points like he did last year.

Who Would the Lightning Trade?

Zuccarello’s playmaking ability and passing would make him an excellent fit on Steven Stamkos’s wing. Zuccarello would use his vision and creativity on the ice to get the puck to Stamkos on a regular basis. Below is some of Zuccarello’s best moments in the NHL where you can see his very high skill level.

In addition Mats Zuccarello is as consistent in the shootout as any player in the league. What would be a fair return for a player of Zuccarello’s caliber? The Rangers are always looking for centers. Why not ask for one of the Lightning’s young centers? The Bolts have a plethora of centers and moving one for Zuccarello would make sense. A fair deal would be Mats Zuccarello for Cedric Paquette or Vladislav Namestnikov and a 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft. This is how the Lightning offense would look for the playoffs with Zuccarello.

Mats Zuccarello, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn, Valterri Filppula, Brett Connolly
Jonathan Drouin, Brian Boyle, Brendan Morrow

52 thoughts on “Why The Lightning Should Trade For Mats Zuccarello”

  1. Slats is a huge fan of Zooks. Zooks does not have a bigger fan than Slats. Slats has always been a Zooks fan even when Torts misued Zooks. Slats just said the other day that he wants to resign Zooks. He said Zooks scores, passes, and plays the game like a Canadian. He also mentioned that Zooks was one of the biggest fanf avorites.

  2. If Zuccarello thinks future, it’s smart to change teams. I think he can make it better in another club than NYR. And Bolts would be a perfect club for him, along with old teammates. So why not?

    He can develop further in a another team than NYR

  3. this article is nothing more than a perfect example of how little sklar knows about hockey. he gets some stupid idea in his head and tries to expound on it but in the course of trying to legitimize his thoughts he sounds more and more like someone who should be writing for readers digest.

  4. Generally the premise of the article is correct. The Rangers have cap issues and something will have to give before July free agency this year. Personally I’ve been thinking Marc Staal as the target being moved more than Zuccarello. Zucc has had a so-so year and I think he’d command less $ on the free agent market and anyway I’m not sure he’d want to play anywhere other than NY. Also keeping in mind that Brady Skjei may be our top prospect (even over Duclair and Buchnevich) and there’s a decent likelihood that if signed he could replace and at least somewhat replicate Staal’s game as early as next year.

    Stepan does need to be locked up. IMO he is the Rangers most valuable forward. At 24 he is an all purpose center and a very creative and defensively smart center and center >wing.

    As for St. Louis–no one knows what he’s going to want as far as his next contract but I really don’t see him getting more $ (or even necessarily being bothered by that). He’s here by choice. I also don’t see the Rangers dumping him after giving up Callahan and two 1st’s. for him. Not going to happen.

    The other thing is the last thing I think the Rangers are going to do is make Tampa, Montreal, the Islanders, Detroit or Pittsburgh stronger playoff opponents than they already are–which this deal would do (and the St. Louis didn’t do). If the Rangers move a major player it will be westwards and it should be for cheaper, younger assets. As for Tampa’s 2nd–that they already have–I’m not a fan of late 2nd rounders for a real player like Zuccarello. Half the time that guy is going to bust.

  5. Tom Burton- Val Filppula is a lot more responsible defensively than Brassard, it’s not all about stats

    • Filppula is a -9 on one of the best possession teams in the league. Rangers ar an average possession team in terms of corsi and fenwick. Brassard is a +3.

  6. As mentioned by Jimbo the Rangers already have Tampa’s 2nd round pick. Beyond that the Rangers also have expectations to make the playoffs and then go deep and moving Zuccarello for a 4th liner and a pick would complicate things. I’d be interested in Kucherov. I might even give Zucc and your 2nd round pick back if you throw in Paquette.

  7. I don’t see the Rangers getting rid of Zuc. They need to shed the older players to make cap space like Boyle and St Louis. They have tons of young talent waiting in the minors, so why lose a guy like Zuc over money ?

  8. This trade makes absolutely no sense for the Rangers. They are not “looking for centers” right now, at all. Namestnikov and Paquette are no better (or younger) than Hayes and Miller. They are trying to win right now; they’re not going to trade a top-six forward to another team in their conference for a kid who could maybe compete for ice time on their third line.

  9. This is article is doing nothing but trying to breakup a good thing happening with the NY Rangers. The author is probably a TB Lighting fan. Its not going to happen, forget about it.

  10. a player that I believe may be a more level return that would really help the Rangers would be Val Filppula, but their cap space would not allow it and Tampa would not want to part ways with him. Filppula for Zuc may be a more even return. With him Derick Brassard would go to where he belongs, 3rd line center. Don’t underestimate the two players I mentioned. Namestnikov has been with Tampa Bay this season and is a 1st round pick with a ton of potential. He is better in my opinion right now then Kevin Hayes. The Lightning are much deeper then the Rangers offensively though and that is why he is an “AHLer”

    • LOL. Brassard on has 30 points in 34 games this year. Filppula has 27 points in 40 games. Kevin Hayes has 14 points in 33 NHL games, Namesnikov has 7 points in his 27 combined nhl games. You do reaalize the Internet does exist outside of the HockeyWrites website right? Asking for a friend.

  11. Two AHLers and a 2nd rounder for a first line winger… Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. The Pens just had to trade a first rounder and a young body for Perron and they were desperate.

  12. You have a better chance of seeing hell freeze over, than Sather trading Zucc’s… He would be run right out of NY, add to that Nash would want out of town as well.. Sather just overpaid the turrnover machine in Girardi, so why not trade him, and bring up another young defenseman.. You can get value in trade for Girardi as well..

    • shut up bitching about Girardi already. He is an ironman, the anchor of the blueline of the best team in the NHL the last month or so. Plus he has a no movement clause. Just watch the games and shut up.

    • Girardi is paid accordingly to market value. He’s a RHS. Teams like San Jose, Detroit, Dallas would do almost anything to get a defender like Girardi. As Jimbo said, Girardi has a FULL NMC for the first 3 years of his deal and a partial NTC the last 3. I know capgeek is down, but please.

  13. more ranger fans overestimating one of their players. as a lightning fan no way do i part with paquette, and hardly namestnikov. stamkos does not need help, he has it with callahan and filppula, who are on the third lines not because they didnt produce, but because the third line needs them, to balance our scoring. when some of these young guys get more adept, they will be moved to the third line and callahan and filppula will return with stamkos.

  14. This gave me a very good chuckle. Like George Constanza thinking up Yankee trades. Sather loves Zuc.

  15. As everyone said upon meeting Forest Gump,”ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Rangers had to give up callahan and 2 no1 draft picks for st louis and they should settle for a rookie with no proven track record and only a no2 fror one of the rangers best players?

  16. You are dreaming if you think the Rangers will trade Zuccarello, especially for the weak return you suggest.
    Without him the Rangers wouldn’t have made the SCF. There are other players who will be moved before Zucc if the salary cap issue forces them to do it. Dream on

    • Again the guy who wrote this article is an intern at HockeyWriters that is a Lightning fan with wishful thinking. The sad thing is these Media outlets hire these people to write articles as part of their internship.

  17. If the NYR deal anyone it will probably be the overrated Marc Staal. They might even deal a guy like Hagelin because they have some good young depth. Zuccarello is one of the key parts and a water bug type player that makes things happen. You don’t deal talented guys like that for the drivel you said TB would send back.

    • I doubt Sather would want to trade Hag’s due to his speed, and his value on the PK, him and Nash together are lightning in a bottle on PK.. He’s also starting to put points up being more comfortable with his line-mates..

      • Nash plays the PK with Stepan. Hags plays with D. Moore. But overall you are correct. The strength to the Rangers game is speed and Hags leads the bunch with that. He is a nightmare for defenders on the forecheck. Then again, he does struggle to finish. One thing is for sure, Slats has some decisions to make. I’m thinking Staal may be the odd man out to make room in the cap. I like him, but I don’t get the feeling he really wants to be here long term and he has the value to get something back to help this team moving forward.

  18. I love it when beat writers just make up news instead of just reporting it just to get people to respond. I would rather comment on actual news then just made up speculations and wishful gossip.

    Zuccy is NOT going anywhere. If he is traded then the Blueshirts fan base will have a mutiny Sather Cap space or not. Want to Keep Zuccy? Get rid of Glass, Stempniak, Malone, John Moore and even Boyle (he’s 38 and look long term) then you have enough to sign Zuccy and Staal to setup a core.

    And to Brian Sklar, try actual Journalism for a change and leave the Gossiping about the Kardashians.

  19. NY Rangers Fan: Yes the fans love him. But love Glen Sather him? Im not sure.
    I think Zuccarello can do it better in another club as well. And Zuccarello have been a sweetheart two times now when it comes to contracts..So its time for Zuccarello looking forward. If he should stay in NYR he deserves same salary as Brassard. If you compare Brassard and Zuccarello – Zuccarello is the best player of those two. NYR should trade Marc Staal to create some cap space for Zuccarellos new contract if they want heshould stay at Manhattan..

  20. 1) Again, why would a team which is preparing for another deep play-off run trade their key player for prospects/picks?

    2) NYR have anything but a lot of depth at wing, they have 4 solid top 6 wings (MSL, Nash, MZA and Kreider), 1 solid 3rd line wing (Hagelin), a couple of youngster who are trying to prove they are prepared for NHL (Fast, Miller) and a couple of 4th liners (Glass, Stempniak), thats only 9 wingers who can curently play on NHL level. Apart from that there are only Duclair and Buchnevich who are in NYR system and could play in top 9, but they are still 1 or 2 years away.

    3) No, Rangers are not looking for some centers, they are looking for a top 1st line center Thorton, Krejci, Toews etc calibre. Adding another 2nd or 3rd line prospects like you mentioned wont solve anything for NYR, they have plenty of those already.

    4) I have no idea where your feeling “Sather doesnt like MZA” is comes from, because it was Sather who brought MZA back to NYR from KHL eventhough Torts clearly didnt want him on the team and if their relationship is so bad, how come MZA was willing to take a huge salary discount last summer just to stay with NYR?

    5) If anyone gets shipped, it probably will be M. Staal, he is the most expendable, because Klein can play top 4 and I dont think it will be that hard to find a shutdown D for the 3rd pair.

  21. It’s true the Rangers need to clear some capspace, but I’m not certain they will move Zuccarello for a centerman. They are looking more for defensemen, and the Bolts are not looking to move any of that. I will not be surprised if Zuccarello is traded before the deadline, but i do not think he’ll end up in Tampa. As a Norwegian Bolts-fan, it would be somewhat fun of course, but I don’t see it happen. Sather said in an interview with the Norwegian TV2 that he would love to have him with the organisation, if possible with the new cap. But then again, he would probably say it to any Norwegian media asking that exact question ;-)

  22. TB is the most overrated team in the East. They are not going to get Zuccarello and they will flop in the playoffs yet again. Too soft.

  23. I feel Sather is not a big fan of Zuc for some reason and they do have alot of organizational depth at wing, someone is gonna have to go to clear cap space for next summer and I have read elsewhere that Zuc may be the one to be moved, even though he is a huge fan favorite in New York

  24. Ok, probably a stupid question, but why would Rangers ship one of their key players for prospect/s and draft picks at the TD?

  25. Lets hope the 5″7″ is a Tampa Bay Lightning-player soon.
    And he only two points behind last year at the same time! Now 19 points, last year 21 points. 50-60 points this season is still possible..

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