For each player who suited up in a Blueshirt this season we will take the good, we will take the bad and take them both and see what we have. And this time around we started with the high numbers and are up to #36, Mats Zuccarello.
#36's #s: 42 games, 6 goals, 17 assists, 3, 4 PIM (1 playoff game, no points, even, 2 PIM).
Take the good: That Mats made it to the NHL this season is good because the transition from European puck to North American can not be understated. Once he was called up, the undersized Zuccarello showed a wonderful fearlessness that peaked with big checks on Hal Gill and Zdeno Chara. At the same time he was Lady Byng-esque in his lack of regular season penalties. His first NHL goal was an overtime game-winner - can't get much better than that. He also displayed good on-ice vision and a penchant for the skills competition, as shown by his five shootout goals (on nine attempts).
Take the bad: Of course, Zuke's four shootout misses came over his last five attempts, showing that opposing goaltenders learned how to stop his one move. MZA averaged 2:32 of power play time and came away with nine power play assists - no goals. His obvious reluctance to shoot made his work with the man advantage predictable. Tortorella's insistence on juggling his lines clearly hurt the kid as he couldn't form much chemistry and, as a pass-first guy, that led to his eventual disappearance, benching and demotion. The only person who Zuccarello worked well with - Derek Stepan - hit a wall and couldn't help propel him back to relevance.
Take them both and then we have: A young player in need of more polishing. Zuccarello needs to realize how far he has come and use that confidence to take him further. The comparison that always comes up - MZA vs Marty St. Louis - still holds as St. Louis averaged 0.51 points per game under his first season with our fair coach Tortorella - Zuccarello averaged 0.55. A broken leg limited St. Louis to 35 points in 53 games in year two, so let's hope for better fortunes for Zuke.