Rangers Zuccarello’s trade value on the rise

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The trade deadline is less than three weeks away, and with players already being shipped off across the league, Mats Zuccarello is heating up at the perfect time.

Zuccarello, who is currently riding a nine-game point streak, has recorded 15 points over that span. Zuccarello has been a part of the Rangers’ red-hot top line, which is centered by Mika Zibanejad and has Chris Kreider on the opposite wing.

Zuccarello had some worried early on in the season, sitting out a handful of games with an injury and not providing any points while in the lineup playing through his issues. The fan favorite now seems to be an absolute goner before the February 25 deadline, for multiple reasons.

Aside from doing his part on the ice and producing for the Rangers, the strong need for many teams across the league for a veteran winger is at an all-time high. The Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins are two teams that seemingly are guaranteed a playoff spot this year and would pay up for Zuccarello.

Taking a look around the league at a trade that has just taken place, the New Jersey Devils got a return of a second-round pick from the Nashville Predators for veteran forward Brian Boyle. That trade took the surprise of many, as the 34-year-old has just 19 points through 47 games this season. Although the trade for Boyle seems to fill other areas of need rather than just point scoring – like penalty killing and bottom-six depth – a second-round pick is a high cost. So that raised the question, can the Rangers actually get a first-round pick for Mats Zuccarello?

In my eyes, there is no reason the Rangers can’t get a first-round pick, or, at a minimum, a second and a decent prospect for Zuccarello now that this trade has taken place. Zuccarello has more playoff experience than all of the players currently on the trade block, can come into a team as a top-six winger, and plays in all situations. Zuccarello simply checks off all of the boxes when teams consider trading for a rental winger. 

“Hayes and Zuccarello, I think it’s notable to note that today Brian Boyle went for a second-round pick from New Jersey to Nashville. He’s a depth player, but he’s sort of a high-end depth player. I think the New York Rangers believe if they can get a first-round pick and something for Kevin Hayes, that would be fantastic. If they can get a first-round pick or a top prospect – not both, but one of those – for Zuccarello, that would be great too.”

Bob McKenzie via Nichols on Hockey

Looking back at a few trades the Rangers made last year at the deadline, it seems clearer and clearer why the asking price for Zuccarello must be high. The Rangers traded Michael Grabner for a second-round pick and solid defensive prospect Yegor Rykov; a huge return for a rental winger who isn’t at Zuccarello’s caliber.

Another would be the Rick Nash trade. When Rick Nash was traded to the Boston Bruins, had had 28 points over 60 games, and was set to be a free agent come season’s end. Zuccarello currently stands at 30 points over 39 games this season and is also set to become a free agent. Now, I’m not saying the Rangers should only accept the haul they got for Rick Nash, but that is a comparison that Jeff Gorton needs to keep in the back of his mind. The Rangers got a first-round pick, defensive prospect Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner (since traded), and Matt Beleskey. 

There is going to be a bidding war for Mats Zuccarello, that’s for sure. After seeing the Rangers pull off some nice trades over the past year or so, and seeing the asking price for other players, I really do believe Mats Zuccarello can bring back a first-round pick. If that is the case, and Kevin Hayes is also shipped off, the Rangers can wake up on February 26 with an extremely hopeful future and a successful trade deadline. 

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