Kreider and Zuccarello a tale of two different UFA stories
In the span of 24 hours, two very different stories have come out with how the Rangers have handled valuable UFAs. Mats Zuccarello, who bemoaned the lack of communication from the team and Chris Kreider, who isn’t even thinking about the deadline.
While the way the Rangers handled Zucc versus Kreider is stark, the end result may very much be the same at the deadline.
In an interview with Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com, Zuccarello said that the Rangers weren’t straightforward about their plans for him. This dated all the way back to that summer and the fact David Quinn failed to get a hold of him to touch base. The new coach was able to speak with Lundqvist and others but never got in touch with Zuccarello. The result was a disappointed beloved veteran and a slump that impacted the team.
“That was probably my biggest thing is the communication wasn’t really there,” Zuccarello said. “To be there for a long time and [not to] feel that was hard, but it’s no different for me than anyone else. I just think that’s the bad part of the business. Like, I’m not stupid. You have a sense of it way before it happens, but the communication could have been better.”NHL.com
After last night’s game where Zuccarello returned to the Garden after being dealt, Kreider had a different experience to relay.
“I’ve got to give credit to management, to JD and [GM Jeff Gorton] and [assistant GM Chris Drury] and Quinney for the way they’ve gone about communicating with me and treating me,” Kreider said. “I’ve heard horror stories about what can happen with guys in this situation, they can get frozen out or whatever. Not here. We’re all part of the team. I’m not thinking about the deadline or my contract or what might happen, I’m telling you, I’m not, and I’m not blowing smoke.”NYPOST
So why the stark contrast between the two? Certainly age has a lot to do with it. Mats was 31 at the time of the deal and likely didn’t fit the rebuild plans. Kreider on the other hand is 28 and will turn 29 in April. If Kreider is amicable to a 5 year deal instead of 7 or 8 (only the Rangers can go 8), there is a possible future for him here.
There is no question though, the Rangers could have done a better job with the way they handled Zuccarello. To be fair, last year was a tumultuous season with a brand new coach getting ready for his rookie campaign and Glen Sather set to leave as President. Still, a lesson learned and the way they’re handling Kreider is having a positive impact on him and the team.