Update: 11:14AM: Leslie Treff writes that Zucc was creating chances in the morning scrimmage but that they didn’t result in any goals.
Original Post: In his first year in North America, Mats Zuccarello scored 6 goals and 17 assists with the Rangers last season and 13 goals and 16 assists in 36 games with the Whale last season.
Zuccarello was sent to Hartford from training camp last season, called up on December 22nd, sent down on December 23rd, called up on December 26th, sent down on April 1, called up on April 8 and then sent down on April 18th.
John Tortorella talked to the media about Zucc after the conditioning tests yesterday :
I thought it was a tremendous year for him, and I liked the way he handled himself, coming over here, playing in the big rinks, really, I thought a little bit overwhelmed early on. As I said to you guys last year when we sent him down, he knew. He didn’t put up a fight. He self-assessed the proper way, went down and played, came to us and really, he had an impact as far as us getting in (the playoffs), especially in the shootout. Again, the second year comes along, he understands us better, we understand him better, and you’re always looking for consistency. He knows where he’s at. He knows where he’s fighting to try to get a job, and he knows he’s in a fight.”
I don’t’ think that the transition from Europe to North America, for a player of his size, can be overstated. He played a full season, split between the two leagues, playing on North American rinks in a North American style. Hopefully he has adjusted and can better utilize his skill set and play at a more consistent level this season. I see his best role being on the right side of Derek Stepan. The two of them worked well last season and should get the chance to play together again.