Saturday, June 2, 2012
Connecticut Whale Offseason Begins With Some Ends
In the average offseason in the AHL you can see your local NHL top affiliate rapidly go from a cohesive team to an incomplete roster. Already gone from the Connecticut Whale are Andreas Thurresson Steve Moses, Pavel Valentenko and Mats Zuccarello. All have signed contracts overseas with the KHL.
The big news there was Zuccarello. It was only hours after the Rangers lost game six to the Devils news broke about him signing with the KHL. Not too long after that news broke that Zuccarello tweeted, "It's a lot of rumors right now. I don't know yet where I'm going to play next year."
Zuccarello had spoken to a Norwegian news paper and said that he was basically frustrated that the Rangers were not using him more over his last two seasons. He had mentioned that the Rangers power play wasn't that good and it was better when he was on it.
Certainly sounded like Zuccarello was headed elsewhere and at this point it may have been good riddance.
Zuccarello was a very promising player, he had great moments with the Rangers and with the Whale. He got the attention of fans and he made a name on shootouts finding amazing ways to fake goalies out of their pads. While he did do all that, what he couldn't do was stay healthy.
Zuccarello in two seasons had zero impact on the playoffs for the Whale or the Rangers. Its hard to make an impact when you are hurt all the time. Zuccarello missed time last season when the Whale were in the playoffs because of a broken wrist. He broke his wrist again when he blocked a shot playing for the Rangers in Buffalo. Zuccarello is small but that doesn't mean he can't play in the NHL. He knows the ice very well, is incredibly offensively aware, but just is not durable enough, especially for the long NHL season.
Zuccarello signed a one year contract with a one year option. He also has an NHL out clause, he also was a Ranger restricted free agent. He certainly will play well in the KHL and the play their is less physical and that will help Zuccarello stay healthy.
Good luck to him but I dont believe the Rangers are going to shed any tears. They didn't need a 5'9" speedster with offensive gifts. They still have three Zuccarelllo-like players in Hartford. Ryan Bourque who had a great Whale playoff season, Jonathen Audy Marchessault who had a break out rookie season with 24 goale and 40 assists. He was tied for the team lead in points,and Christian Thomas, son of former NHL'er Steve Thomas. Will we see Zuccarello on the Whale or the Rangers again? Time will tell.
The Rangers went ahead and signed Marek Hrivik real quick. Hrivik led the Whale in playoff scoring with five goals and 4 assists in 9 games. He was tied with Casey Wellman who is a restricted free agent has not been retained as of yet.
You can expect many more departures and of course some additions the Whale have signed Jesper Fast a sixth round pick in 2010. Jesper has already said he will play overseas in his Swedish Elite League before coming to North America to play with the Rangers or the Whale. We will see who else will be coming on board because October is never that far away.