Mats Zuccarello wouldn’t rate his performance so far this season particularly highly. He’s gone from recording 59 points in 77 games in 2013-14 to eight goals and 18 assists in 46 contests this season.
“I know I haven’t been good enough,” Zuccarello told the New York Daily News. “It’s not just points. It’s creating more chances and other things. I know I can be better.”
The fact that he signed a one-year, $3.5 million “show me” contract does cross his mind, but he doesn’t want to use it as an excuse. He certainly would be in a better negotiating position if he had built off of last season’s success, but he still has Rangers coach Alain Vigneault in his corner.
“I believe that Mats is a very good hockey player; I would prefer he stay a New York Ranger,” Vigneault said. “I’ve made that very clear to management. I think that this young man has a lot of upside, and I do believe that he can play much better than he has this year.
“He can contribute at a more regular pace. I do see him as part of our future. But at the end of the day this is a business, and if he wants to stay, and we want him, there’s got to be a common ground. So that’s where that’s at right now.”
Zuccarello does have three points in his last two contests, but that comes after a stretch where he recorded just one assist in seven games. Still, there’s enough time left for the 27-year-old to turn his bounce back and put up solid numbers this season.