UPDATE: (9:40 a.m.) - Zuccarello speaks. Here's a rough translation:
"There's a chance I must take. You do not get many of them in life, and if there is an alright offer, it is the best league in the world. It does not hurt to try."
In easier to read words, essentially he is saying that he isn't taking the opportunity to play in the best league in the world for granted and wants to give it another try. Nice to see the ambition. Whether he succeeds is remains to be seen, but it's likely that one thing he is not going to do is be a spectator; he'll give his all every shift to prove he belongs. Zuccarello also says that he has his equipment packed up and is prepared to go to New York on short notice.
(8:12 a.m.) - A different Norwegian news source, Dagbladet, spoke with agent Erik Ryman. Ryman says he doesn't foresee Metallurg interfering in any way and expects the contract to be finalized. He also confirms that it is a one-year, one-way deal but that he anticipates holding discussions with the Rangers over a multi-year deal at the end of this season.
(7:25 a.m.) – Norwegian paper Verdens Gang quotes agent Erik Ryman as implying that the contract is only for this season. Zuccarello previously was on record saying he wanted a multi-year deal in order to return to the Rangers. It remains to be seen whether Zuccarello intends to go back to Russia for next year or if there is more to this, but if it is indeed only for the remainder of this season then it's more or less a no-risk move for both sides.
6:49 a.m. - With Halpern going to the Canadiens and Bickel going to the Connecticut Whale, forward additions were inevitable. It appears that the long-rumored reunion with Mats Zuccarello will be one of them.
According to Aftonbladet, Zuccarello and the Rangers have agreed on a contract. The article quotes Zuccarello's Swedish agent, Erik Ryman, as saying that the 25-year-old Norwegian has received an offer from the Rangers that Zuccarello is happy with and that his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, simply need to sign off on it for the move to be official. Since Zuccarello has an out-clause to come back to the NHL in his contract with Metallurg this doesn't appear to be anything more than a technicality.
I can analyze this in two ways. From a purely emotional standpoint, I love getting Zucc back. He's incredibly easy to root for and plays with a ton of heart. Obviously you want to see anyone in a Rangers jersey succeed, but there's just something extra wonderful about Zuccarello putting in a goal and jumping around to celebrate.
Of course, as I'm sure plenty are going to point out in the comments section, this alone is not going to be the magical move that turns around the season. He's been inconsistent at the NHL level and has struggled to contribute off the puck. However, he showed signs of playing a more consistent, complete game in his final stint with the Rangers last year until a broken wrist ended his campaign. Tortorella has struggled to put out four lines he likes largely because the left wing contributions have been weak outside of Carl Hagelin. Zuccarello gives the team another offensive player on the left side and will hopefully allow Torts to get Gaborik back to right wing, where he is clearly more comfortable. If nothing else, it's an upgrade over Taylor Pyatt, who is good on the forecheck and defensively but has no business being put in an offensive role. And in a market where an aging, declining winger like Brenden Morrow is worth a top prospect, the Rangers do well to get a player familiar with the organization and with the potential to produce offensively for no price except money out of James Dolan's pocket.
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