Norwegian paper believes this is the end for Mats Zuccarello on Broadway

Mats Zuccarello could be gone soon (Getty)

Mats Zuccarello could be gone soon (Getty)

Norwegian website VG Sport believes this could be Mats Zuccarello’s last year in a Blueshirt. Thanks to Marc Staal’s extension and Derek Stepan’s expected next contract to be around the $6M mark, Zuccarello may be on his way out of NY.

Mats Zuccarello with reporters

Mats Zuccarello with reporters

The beloved Ranger known affectionately to the fans as “The Hobbit” is concerned about his future as well. “If they want me, I do not know,” VG quoted Zuccarello. “I’m going to play somewhere next year, but I do not know where. All I can do is play what I’m good for.”

Rumors were all over the internet that Zuccarello’s agent came into NY yesterday to see him. Zucc’s sentiments above could be why Mats’ representatives came to meet with him. As per this tweet, speculation became confirmation.

 

So what happens next? Great question, but all any of us can do is assume what may take place. Does Zuccarello and his group meet with Sather and company? I would have to think they will try and work something out, but at this point Zuccarello may have to sacrifice millions for term if he wants to stay. An increase from $3.5M to $4.5M isn’t impossible, say for 4-5 years, but if Zuccarello still believes he’s worth $5-6M his time is likely up. Ranger scouts were also at the Leafs and Hurricanes last night.  

Many believe the Rangers are trying to obtain defenseman Andrej Sekera, but the rumor mill has the Leafs very active in the market. I’m still trying to understand this obsession to acquire Sekera to play 6th man on defense.

The Rangers issue is depth at center, especially in the face-off circle. Maybe the Blueshirts are trying to acquire 28 year old center, Tyler Bozak who has the same exact cap hit as Zuccarello’s $3.5M.

Tyler Bozak (Abelimages/Getty Images)

Tyler Bozak (Abelimages/Getty Images)

Of course, Bozak for Zuccarello even up won’t fly because Bozak is under contract for the next 3 years after signing a 5 year – $21M deal in 2013. The Rangers would have to give up more just in case Zuccarello decides to go elsewhere in the offseason.

Again, this is pure speculation on my part and you would have to assume that Toronto would need assurances he would sign with them before parting with a player like Bozak.

This season Bozak has 14 goals and 32 points in 47 games. He also is winning nearly 52% of all draws he has taken. At 6’1″ and 195 lbs, he should be able to hold his own against the bigger centers in the Metro.

So is this really the end of Zuccarello on Broadway? This is the salary cap era and there are no certainties anymore. The Rangers are hoping the ceiling hits $73M, but even if it comes in that high it will be difficult to retain everyone on the roster today.

It’s a harsh reality and one that could be made worse by the loss of The Hobbit.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore