Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/17/11

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. 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Joe Mixon drafted by Bengals; fans boo pick

Vikings land Adrian Peterson’s replacement, trade up for Dalvin Cook

WATCH: Kris Bryant launches moonshot completely out of Fenway Park

Kevin King, alone in green room, taken first in Round 2 by Packers

Felix Hernandez, Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks for Mariners

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

CFL fines head coach for meeting with Johnny Manziel rep

Reuben Foster hung up on Saints when 49ers called him

Packers ‘taking calls’ for No. 33 pick in draft

Bears confirm that Mike Glennon is their starter for the 2017 season

Report: Jets making calls trying to trade Sheldon Richardson

Broncos players take to Twitter to call for team to sign Gary Barnidge

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker