Rangers Analysis: A Closer Look at Mats Zuccarello-Aasen

Ever since the reports came out that the Rangers had agreed to terms with Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello-Aasen I have been doing some research.

For starters Zuccarello-Aasen is 22 years old, fresh off two brilliant seasons for MODO in the Swedish Elite League; again it’s a league of men not youth. Here are his stats, courtesy of EliteProspects.com:

2003-2004

Frisk Asker U19

Norway U19

-

7

14

21

14

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Norway U18

WJC-18

6

0

2

2

8

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2004-2005

Frisk Asker

Norway

1

0

0

0

0

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Frisk Asker U19

Norway U19

27

19

17

36

16

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Norway U18

WJC-18 D1

5

2

3

5

6

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2005-2006

Frisk Asker

Norway

21

5

3

8

12

|

Playoffs

4

0

0

0

 

Frisk Asker U19

Norway U19

-

7

0

7

0

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Norway U20

WJC-20

6

0

2

2

4

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2006-2007

Frisk Asker

Norway

43

34

25

59

36

|

Playoffs

7

4

4

8

 

Norway U20

WJC-20 D1

5

2

5

7

2

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2007-2008

Frisk Asker

Norway

33

24

40

64

48

|

Playoffs

15

12

15

27

24 

 

Norway

WC

7

1

0

1

2

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2008-2009

MODO

Elitserien

35

12

28

40

38

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Norway

WC

6

3

0

3

8

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 2009-2010

MODO

Elitserien

55

23

41

64

62

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Norway OG

OG

4

1

2

3

2

|

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

As you can see above, in his final two seasons in the SEL he put up 35 goals 69 assists for 104 points in 90 games. As a 21 and 22 year old (in those two seasons respectively) those numbers are simply magnificent, they are jaw-dropping, there is really no other way to put it.

To have more than a point per game as a 22 year old in one of the best professional hockey leagues on the planet says something about the type of player this kid is. Think about it: he is young and pretty small, honestly his size is the only knock on him, and he still put’s up those kinds of numbers?

Join me after the jump for more.

Before I go any father let's go back to Elite Prospects for a minute for his scouting report:

Assets:Fantastic technical skills and great passing ability. Can finish with ablomb. A magician who can do spectacular things with the puck. Great vision and can man the power play point. Defensively responsible and doesn't mind heavy traffic.


Flaws: Size and strength. Not a great physical player.

When I first saw this scouting report there was one thing that jumped out at me: "Defensively responsible and doesn't mind heavy traffic."

Generally the knock on players who put up such absurd numbers is their defensive prowess. If you want an NHL example look no further than Ilya Kovalchuk. There is a guy who can do anything he wants with the puck offensively, but could care less about what's happening behind him. If you want more information on that, The Falconer did an awesome piece on it over at Birdwatchers Anonymous which you can view here.Regardless of Kovalchuk, to see that Zuccarello-Aasen doesn't have the mindset that defense isn't as important as offense is awesome to see.

The other part of that little comment that brought a smile to my face was "doesn't mind heavy traffic." Like I said earlier the biggest knock on Zuccarello-Aasen is his size, and the biggest worry with smaller forwards is not getting into the heavy traffic areas on the ice to look for scoring opportunities. It's a very good sign that he has absolutly no trouble with that.

And again, please note that we are not talking about a junior league here, we are talking about a men's league. If Zuccarello-Aasen is going into heavy traffic, he is doing it again men who are much older, bigger and stronger than him. If that isn't a brilliant sign then I don't know what is.

 

For those of you that think that the SEL doesn't translate to the NHL RangerSmurf has this to say:

 

The SEL has one of the highest NHLe (nhl equivalency) rates at .78.

Anyway onto my final analysis. Zuccarello-Aasen brings to the Rangers offense everything the doctor ordered. He is a premiere playmaker, an awesome finisher, and boy is he fast. You can say what you want about Glen Sather, but I think one of the main areas where he excells is in signing un-drafted talent, and this is more proof of that.

I would be astounded if he didn't make the team out of camp, and even more surprised if he didn't make a nice impact on the team next year. When you really break it down, he is a perfect line-mate for Marian Gaborik. He is fast, has magnificent vision, and can bury the puck when he gets it on his stick. On a lesser note, he also seems like he would be fantastic in the shootout.

Regardless, enjoy this signing. It was nothing short of brilliant by Sather, and you heard it here first: this kid is going to be a star on Broadway. He has already flourished under the bright lights of MODO hockey (one of the most popular SEL teams) so New York was the next obvious step. Hell he is even being tutored by Peter Forsberg, how can this get any better?

And just know this before I leave you with his video. Detroit, Chicago and the Leafs all would have killed to have him. The Rangers did good here guys, trust me.

So let me leave you all with a video of him, that highlights basically everything about it.



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