Last night the New York Rangers made a roster swap by sending Mats Zuccarello down to the Connecticut Whale and recalling Kris Newbury to take his spot on the active roster. There are a lot of facets to the move, but a couple of the main ones are money and development. Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants astutely pointed out last night the significant difference in cap hit between Mats Zuccarello ($1.75 million) Kris Newbury ($512,500) as it will save the Rangers significantly. Gross goes even further asking the following…
The question now, is it a prelude to a move to acquire a defenseman?
Gross could be onto something in the long-term plans, but the move of Zuccarello for Newbury right now is about more than just the money. Mats Zuccarello is an offensive player who has to play in that sort of role or he is useless at the NHL level. With Stepan playing on the top line and the Boyle line being used as the third line, Zuccarello is going to be relegated to a fourth line role he is completely unsuited for. Sending him down to the Whale will allow him to play an upper line role in a more offensive position while continuing to work on his game in case the Rangers need him to fill in for a top 6-9 forward being hurt.
Newbury on the other hand is scorching to start the year with four goals and four assists for the Whale. Beyond his hot start Newbury is perfectly suited and used to playing a fourth line role in the NHL. He is good on faceoffs, fits into the forechecking system and brings energy during his shifts. The only issue with Newbury could be that he plays with so much energy out there that he can get himself into trouble taking an unnecessary penalty, which the Rangers certainly don’t need right now.
The move of Newbury for Zuccarello is not a sexy one for the fans, but it is the best use of both players talents within the organization while also saving the team money if they do want to make a move for a higher salary player down the line.