Mac and Zucc: To Trade or Not To Trade, That is the Question?
We’ve all heard the rumors of selling everything that isn’t nailed down (aka everyone but Hank) for this upcoming rebuild. We know that Nash, Grabner and possibly Holden have drawn eyes because they’re on expiring contracts and they can add a boost (I don’t know why teams want Holden but I’ll be happy to get anything for him at this point) to a contending team.
Mac and Zucc
Among these rumors are two fan favorites: The Captain, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello (Zuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc). Even though they have another year on their contract, Jeff Gorton stated he’ll move either one if “The Price is Right”, so come on down and guess the actual retail price of these Rangers stars.
They will fetch a huge package in return especially if the Rangers eat up some of either or both of their contracts (Mac 4.7M, Zucc 4.5M). Now I like first round picks, top prospects and NHL ready stars as much as the next guy but hear me out, maybe we shouldn’t trade them. I know, I know I’m already hearing the “what’s wrong with you? It’s a rebuild! And they’ll be on the wrong side of 30 when they need new contracts. You’re an idiot and you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
All valid points my good imaginary troll, and I agree with you. It is a rebuild after all and why not trade these two veterans in the prime of their careers to get a huge haul in return? Why not start fresh? Well to start Gorton said this is a retool not a rebuild and they intend to try to compete next year so maybe not trade everyone just yet.
Boys don’t lead men, men lead men
As of January 12th, 2018, The Rangers have the 18th youngest team in the league (I’m sure their average went up a little with the waiver acquisition of Cody McLeod). With a rebuild, the tone Gorton was trying to convey was younger, faster and more talented players on the upcoming roster (AV obviously on his way out with his infamous way he deploys and handles the young guys). Most of you are probably thinking “Well yeah! Build the team around young talent! They’ll be competing in no time!”
Hate to burst your bubble (I love it actually) but have you heard of this team called the Edmonton Oilers? Since 2007 where they had THREE first round picks (6th, 15th and 21st overall) they picked in the top 10 almost every year since, minus 2008 and 2017, and had 4 first overall draft picks in that span as well. They did make the finals a year before (2005/06) that huge overall and influx of picks but that didn’t seem the correct path because they missed the playoffs every year since except for this past year (2016/17 season).
Now why am I mentioning all of this? The Edmonton Oilers are a relatively young team being the 5th youngest this year and they currently are 16 points out of a playoff spot. Yikes!
They lack a key component, which is veterans. Everyone thought that trading former first round pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for veteran defenseman Adam Larson was a terrible, god awful, and unbelievable one for one trade. Surprisingly the Oilers made the playoffs after that trade (Also it helped that the Oilers had no defense for years and now had a skilled one).
What I’m trying to get at is the Rangers need to keep SOME veterans. If Nash, Zucc, Grabner, Holden and MacTruck are all traded and none of the UFA’s are resigned we see a huge drop in age for the Rangers, the oldest being Marc Staal (excluding Hank). If veterans aren’t around to show the new guys the ropes we see a huge drop in confidence and team play, which we saw with the Oilers and other teams like Arizona, Columbus and Florida for a while, and Dallas for a time.
Veterans need to be kept in order to guide the young players to achieve their highest potential by teaching them and protecting them from other teams. Keeping Zucc and Mac would be huge miss in potential talent in a return for a trade but it would mean the Rangers have a better chance making the playoffs next year than starting from fresh with all young guys.
Don’t lie to me, I know you’ll miss chanting Zuuuuuuuuc
It’s no secret that Zucc and Mac are All-Star caliber players. Even though the Rangers don’t score much, Zuccarello has lead the team in points 3 out of the last 4 seasons and leads the team this season with 40 points in 55 games. McDonagh adds his fair share of scoring (his best being 43 points in 2013/14 and 42 last season) but also adds solid defense around his teammates.
We’ve all watched the games where he denies high scoring opportunities or breakaways and acts as a body double for Hank if he ever leaves the net (160 blocks last season, career high 182 in 2011/12) but the impressive stat here is that he has never had a season with a bad plus/minus. The lowest total (excluding this season) has been a plus 11. He plays an average of 23 minutes, not including the playoffs where he goes well over that. Stats only paint part of the picture. He’s the captain for a reason and under his watch the Rangers always were ready to battle in every game. He’s the longest tenured Captain since Messier (even if it is only 1 year longer than Drury and Callahan). Why get rid of the leader now?
This rebuild will be one of the toughest tests for the Rangers in a long time and to avoid a huge playoff drought in the years to come it will be good to have a Captain that has lead the team and fans before. Speaking of the fans, we all love these guys. We know how important they are to the team, but we also know that trading guys away or not resigning guys are part of the business. Like Rick Nash said recently, “it’s a business and I have to remember not to take It personally.” Well the fans take it personally, because we take everything personally.
You’re messing with the status quo! You’re messing with our captain and ZUUUUUUUUUC. Who doesn’t love a little hobbit who’s 5-8, 179, try to go toe to toe with 6-9, 250, Zdeno Chara?? There’s a reason why we love this guy so much, and why we chant his name and why he has that ‘A’ on his chest, and it’s because he’s earned it. He’s paid his dues and he’s fought and battled and scored. The same goes with Mac. They both lead the team, they take hits, shots, score and protect their own.
This is where we say goodbye
I love them both. I think they’re a staple in the team but if this rebuild really is a rebuild and not a retool, then I see them getting traded. As much as I don’t want them to be traded, sometimes change is good, and they’ll be a huge upgrade for whatever contender they go to.
Remember, Gorton said we wouldn’t trade them unless it’s a life changing trade, so the return will be worth saying goodbye to these guys. The bright side is they could always come back, that is if they’re not signed by a different team and probably need to take a pay cut to come back. But in a perfect world the Rangers get everything they need from trade via Nash, Grabner and Holden and with all of the new acquisitions and the young guys coming up they make the playoffs next year with Mac and Zucc leading the charge. But hey, trade deadline isn’t here just yet, so anything’s possible.
Thanks to Hockey Reference, NHL.com, CapFriendly, and James Mirtle from theatheltic.com for doing all the math (by taking it from Natural Stat Trick) for the average team size, age and other random stats and creating nice charts as well.