Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that because last night was Mats Zuccarello's 69th NHL game in his first three years in the league he became an impending Group II restricted free agent rather than an impending Group VI unrestricted free agent.
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement if he finished the year having played fewer than 69 NHL games he would have been an unrestricted free agent.
…i can't believe I'm saying this, but the Rangers need to make re-signing Zuccarello a priority this offseason. He has been everything and more since re-joining the team this season. He's given the Rangers a spark with his playmaking ability and physical prowess.
…it's also great, with Zuccarello being an RFA, that the Rangers will have all the leverage in contract negotiations, especially when they'll need to re-sign so many other important free agents this summer (Clowe – UFA, Stepan – RFA, Hagelin – RFA and McDonagh – RFA).