NHL New York Rangers

5 Reasons Why Mats Zuccarello Is Only New York Rangers Player Earning His Contract

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5 Reasons Why Mats Zuccarello Is The Only New York Rangers Player Earning His Contract

5 Reasons Why Mats Zuccarello Is The Only New York Ranger Earning His Contract
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of NHL stars or the best players on the New York Rangers, names that usually come to mind for example are Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan or Brad Richards. No one would ever say that Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian hobbit who is also the smallest player on the team at 5-foot-7, would be the team's top player.

This is both a compliment to Zuccarello and a shot to the Rangers organization. He is at best a third-line role player on any other team, yet he is the Rangers' best player in a very disappointing 2013-14 regular season.

Don't believe me? Zuccarello is currently second on the team in goals with eight, and overall points with 25. Yet, he is only making $1.15 million this year while Richards, who only has one goal and one assist more, is making close to $7 million this season alone.

The bottom line is that while Zuccarello is having a good season, the rest of the Rangers are not. It is not spectacular season by any means and frankly it is appalling that no one on the Rangers has reached double-digits in goals almost halfway through the regular season, but I digress.

All of us Rangers fans want Zuccarello to keep up the good work but in all honesty, if he is still the Rangers' best player by the end of this season, then that means the Rangers did not make the playoffs.

The Rangers have a lot of work to do for them to be respectable this season, but let's not take the focus off of Zuccarello. This is his moment and his slideshow. Hope he can continue his play and inspire other Rangers to live up to their contracts before it is too late this season.

Steven Carollo is a New York Rangers and sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, add him on Facebook, connect with him on LinkedIn and join his Google network.

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5. Goal Scoring

Goal Scoring
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

For a man that was signed to be a role player, Zuccarello has developed into a primary goal scorer for the Rangers, as sad as it may seem.

His eight goals are second on the team, but that is not including shootout goals. In the few shootouts that the Rangers have been in this season, Zuccarello has been in major part in those that they have won. Where would this Rangers team be if Zuccarello did not take the reins and produce offense? I can only imagine.

Hopefully Richards, Nash and Stepan will finish counting their money soon so that they can help Zuccarello out.

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4. Sticks Up For Teammates

Sticks Up For Teammates
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

One of the things that impresses me the most about Zuccarello's game is that he actually sticks up for his teammates.

You would think this would not be asking much since hockey is a team sport and a lot of players on different teams all stick up for their teammates, but not the Rangers. You would be simply amazed at the lack of care on this Rangers squad and how no one but Zuccarello comes to a teammate's aid.

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3. Playmaking Ability/Awareness

Playmaking Ability/Awareness
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

His awareness of the situation and playmaking ability is the best on the team currently. His 17 assists on the season prove that. That is one more assist then Stepan, who is supposed to be the Rangers' no. 1 center.

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2. Toughness/Physicality

Toughness/Physicality
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Zuccarello, at 5-foot-7, is the shortest player on the Rangers and is by far the toughest out of everyone on this current roster, including Brian Boyle, the tallest player on the Rangers at 6-foot-7. Unlike his teammates, Zuccarello always finishes a check, is never afraid of anyone and even fights back when getting pushed around because it is not like any of his teammates will come to his aid.

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1. Heart

Heart
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Heart is by far the no. 1 reason why Zuccarello is the only player on this current Rangers roster who is earning his contract.

He gives 100 percent at everything his does. When he is on the forecheck, he pressures the player with the puck like there is no tomorrow. When he has the puck in the corners, it takes more than one guy to pry the puck away from him and when he doesn't have the puck in the corners, he will keep fighting until he comes up with the puck. When he shoots, he puts everything he can on it and the same can be said about his passing.

His heart and dedication is similar to captain Ryan Callahan, and I can only wish that the rest of this team can wake up and play with that kind of heart one day soon.

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