Now that the Stars have been eliminated from the playoffs, speculation is already running rampant about what the future holds for former Rangers fan favorite Mats Zuccarello, whom the Rangers traded to Dallas at this year's deadline.
The Blueshirts missed out on getting Dallas' 2019 first-round pick by a goal as the Stars lost to the Blues in double overtime of Game 7 Tuesday night. Instead, the Rangers will get the Stars' second-rounder. However, if Zuccarello re-signs with the Stars, the 2020 third-round pick New York got from Dallas will become a first-rounder.
Based on what Zuccarello had to say about the matter Thursday, it seems the Blueshirts may luck out with next year's NHL Draft.
"This is my team now," the impending free agent told reporters. "We'll see what's going on. I'm kind of a guy when someone believes in you and wants you, I usually like that. We'll see."
Zuccarello was, and still is, beloved in New York and would be a candidate for the captaincy if the Rangers brought him back. But the Rangers will have to consider if it's worth committing several years and dollars to a 31-year-old amid their rebuild. Also, by bringing Zuccarello back, the Rangers would be willingly throwing away a chance at an additional first-round pick in the 2020 draft.
The right wing seemed to win over the fans in Dallas quickly and performed well in the playoffs, notching four goals and seven assists in 13 games. He suffered a broken right arm in his first regular-season game with the Stars before returning for the postseason, but he wasn't at 100 percent. Stars GM Jim Nill told reporters that Zuccarello had to get injections before every game because of tendon issues in the arm.
"I took three, four needles every game just to (play,)" Zuccarello said. "It's not ideal, but you got to do what you got to do to play in the playoffs. Now, I'll get some time to heal and rest it."