Thursday, May 13, 2010
Just A Word Of Caution
After a dreadful season with the annual tease of talent by the Rangers, it is no surprise that everyone is getting excited over Mats Zuccarello-Aasen. Zuccarello-Aasen, if you don't know, is a 22-year-old Norwegian right wing who is rumoured to have signed with the Blueshirts - a deal that is rumoured to become official after the World Championships - although he has several other suitors.
MZA, not to be confused with MDZ, is just 5'7, 160 but played big at the Olympics and has been monstrous at the aforementioned World Championships. He also averaged better than a point-per-game in Sweden the last two seasons for Modo (playing this season with Markus Naslund and Peter Forsberg, among others). There are plenty of clips of him looking awesome on Youtube and both Swedes and Norwegians who watched him play in person have told me he has the ability to succeed on this side of the Pond.
Now, like all of you, I want to believe that he is the second coming of Brian Gionta, or even Espen Knutsen. Really, I do. However, my own pessimism is quick to look at the last "superstar" out of the Swedish league that everyone drooled over - Fabian Brunnstrom. The amount of hype for Barnstormer was just as silly as what we are heading for MZA. They called him the next Alfredsson and look at what happened to him ... after debuting with a hat trick in 2008, things went downhill and he split last season between the (non-playoff-bound) NHL Stars and the AHL Stars. Now he is possible trade bait.
And do you remember last summer? The Rangers signed the 'Swiss Sean Avery' in Andres Ambϋhl? Judging by notes from Howlings over the course of the season Ambϋhl was pretty decent but he never was a star scorer. And the Rangers need a scorer to take the heat off of Gabby.
MZA has shown signs that he can do it internationally - with and without the magnificent Tore Vikingstad - and he played with two of the best NHLers over the last 15 years in Sweden so he should have an idea of what it takes to play in North America. But let's just wait and see if he a) does sign with the Rangers and then b) quickly makes the transition this fall before we get all giddy. There have been enough disappointments by the Blueshirts already this spring.