Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 4/19/12

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30: Head coach John Tortorella of the New York Rangers during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 30, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Rangers 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In the eyes of head coach John Tortorella, forward Mats Zuccarello earned a spot on the Rangers roster in training camp. He showed improvement in his footspeed and his decision making with the puck, and those were the two major factors that contributed to his descendance to the AHL for a majority of last season. But still, three games into the regular season this year, Zuccarello again finds himself with the Connecticut Whale. What gives?

Well, the reason Zuccarello is in the AHL this season differs from why he was there last season. Simply put, there is just no roster space for him to stay with the team. The first three lines are completely filled with players who deserve and have earned the right to be there. That leaves only the fourth line for Zuke, which doesn't make sense on several levels.

First, Zuccarello is far too skilled of a player to be skating on the fourth line. Did you see how lost Mike Rupp looked trying to keep up with Mats on Saturday against the Islanders? Zuke doesn't fit there and I think that's been made quite obvious if you ask me. 

Secondly, for a younger player, it's not healthy to be playing fourth line minutes. Zuccarello is still in the development stages of his game and to be sitting on the bench more often than not every night is not going to help him one iota. This is the reason why he was assigned to the Whale, because he will at least get the ice time that he deserves down there. 

But for how long can this go on? Once Wojtek Wolski returns from his groin injury, there will be even less roster availability and Zuccarello will likely never be recalled unless the team starts experiencing additional injuries. And he is not a career AHLer either, so to keep him down there for extended periods of time does not seem very fair to me. 

This is where I see opportunity knocking on the door of general manager Glen Sather. Zuccarello doesn't have much of a future here in New York, which is what I've been trying to point out so far in this article. So maybe it would be wise for Slats to pick up the phone and make it known that Mats is on the trading block. And what do the Rangers want in return? The much needed veteran defenseman they've been looking for. 

Now before you jump down my throat, I am aware that Zuccarello alone will not bring in a veteran defenseman. However, I think he would if he was offered in a package with a draft pick or a prospect. Let's face it, Zuccarello is unneeded here while a replacement for Marc Staal is. Brendan Bell and Jeff Woywitka are not going to get the job done, and I think we've already begun to see that. The Rangers need a player with broader capabilities and Zuccarello is a prime candidate to use as bait. 

Desperate situations call for desperate measures, and that's what the Rangers are looking at right now. As I said yesterday, offense is not the problem right now - it's the defense that we should be worried about. Here's an opportunity to get temporary aid; it would be foolish of Sather not to take advantage. 

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wrigley Field bleacher renovation may be delayed

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

Report: Michigan keeping Jim Hackett on as athletic director

Steelers turned down chance to be called 'America's Team'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

Jenn Sterger hints she'll be back in her FSU cowgirl gear for game

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.