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Mats Zuccarello (Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

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New York Rangers: Is it time to say goodbye to Mats Zuccarello?

At 31 years old and reaching the end of his four-year, $18-million-dollar contract, Mats Zuccarello’s days with the New York Rangers appear to be numbered.  

Earlier this week, the right winger went on a hockey podcast conducted by Norwegian journalist, Roy Kvatningen. During the podcast, Zuccarello spoke about his recent injury and what expectations he holds for the future.

The reality is that the team is in the midst of a rebuild. Last season, fans had to say goodbye to J.T. Miller, Rick Nash and even their beloved captain Ryan McDonagh. With his 4-year contract coming to an end, Zuccarello is expecting to be traded by the Rangers by the February 25 deadline. 

“A trade appears to be the most likely outcome. I guess am prepared for it,” Zuccarello said. “Basically, I’m just waiting for it to happen. It’s a tough spot to be in, if I’m being honest.”

Another factor behind the rumors could be that the Rangers are having difficulty finding enough playing time for all of their young forwards. Earlier this year, Jeff Gorton told Larry Brooks that if a young player proves that he is ready to play in the NHL, then the team will make “whatever roster moves are necessary” to make that happen. With the Rangers currently committed to a rebuild, a trade to a contender is the most likely outcome.

“I’ve been here a long time and know everyone in the organization, so it will be very sad. But I also think that it can be a positive thing, if it happens. You can get a spark from trying something new,” Zuccarello said. 

Zuccarello first came to the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He has been with the team for his entire career. In 480 career regular season games, Zuccarello has racked up 105 goals and 325 points.

The Rangers began their two-game road trip, which started this Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. Zuccarello is currently in New York recovering from a right-groin injury that has kept him out for eight of the previous ten games. He will not be joining the Rangers this week on the road.

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