Could the Rangers solve their right wing problem by reuniting with a former fan favorite?

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers made it to game six of the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons but fell short of returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2014. The Blueshirts now enter the offseason looking to tinker their lineup to finally get themselves over the hump and lift the Stanley Cup. 

While everything seems to be on the table, and the roster could look significantly different come opening night, a key area of discussion this offseason has been improving the top-six forward group, specifically at the right-wing position.

The blue and white have had a revolving door of players at the position for the past couple of seasons, and all rumors indicate that president and general manager Chris Drury will finally look to solve that issue.

A potential solution could be reacquiring a fan favorite, which the team traded away during the rebuilding that brought them to this point.

The Rangers should take a look at Mats Zuccarello

Minnesota Wild forward Mats Zuccarello (36) beats New York Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick (32) for a goal during a shootout at Xcel Energy Center

Mats Zuccarello spent the first nine years of his career donning the blue and white before the Rangers traded him to Dallas at the 2019 trade deadline. The Norwegian native played in just 15 games before signing with the Minnesota Wild in free agency, where he has remained since.

The 36-year-old has played in 835 regular season games across his 14-year career, scoring 198 goals and registering 239 assists for 352 points. In 96 playoff games, Zuccarello has scored 18 goals and registered 37 assists for 55 points.

Would trading for Zuccarello make sense?

Mar 8, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) skates with the puck as New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) and center Barclay Goodrow (21) defend during the third period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Zuccarello’s return to New York makes plenty of sense. The 36-year-old has proven he can handle playing in the Big Apple while still performing at a high level.

The Norwegian native is a perfect fit to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Not only does Zuccarello have experience playing right-wing, but he is also a pass-first winger who can still score when called upon, which is desperately what that line needs.

The Norwegian native would add versatility to the powerplay unit and could kill penalties when needed.

Zuccarello also signed a cap-friendly two-year deal this past September, keeping him under control at $4.125 million. In addition, the 36-year-old has a no-move clause, meaning if the Wild wants to trade him, he has to agree to it, potentially lowering the cost for the Blueshirts.

With Zuccarello still without a Stanley Cup and the Wild unlikely to be serious contenders next season, alongside the Rangers needing a top-six winger, the circumstances are there for both sides to make a deal.

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