One of the most important components in a successful NHL team is the depth in the lines. Most championship teams can run four lines deep, letting the top six rest while trusting all of the talent on the ice.
This past season, the New York Rangers had some depth in their bottom lines that resulted in them going to the Stanley Cup Final. One of the main reasons they got so far was because of their third line, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot. Since they’re all free agents, it’d be smart for the Rangers to bring them all back.
Watching that third line this past season was magical. Zuccarello, Brassard and Pouliot just seem to click well together, demonstrating very good chemistry. One of the things they did well was score at the right times. Whenever the top six on the Rangers struggled, they could always depend on Zuccarello, Brassard or Pouliot to net one past the goaltender.
Led by “Zuke,” this line just seemed to have the magic necessary to make it to the promised land. Plus, they had the best nicknames in hockey (Zuke, Brass, Captain Taco).
While it looks like re-signing all three could be impossible, it’s very possible. Zuccarello has said he’ll take less money to help out the team and wants to be a Ranger for life. Brassard is probably going to look for $3-4 million per year, while Pouliot will likely ask for $3 million.
You have to remember that while the Rangers would want to get another center or defenseman, this is the line that gave the team consistency and stability. Other teams aren’t going to take the risk of giving Pouliot too much money since he’s mainly been a bust since being drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2005.
They could re-sign two of the three, but the third line won’t be the same unless Zuccarello, Brassard and Pouliot are on the same ice together. If they don’t lock them up, I don’t see the Rangers making the Stanley Cup Final next year with their current salary cap woes.
Of course, Brassard and Pouliot could bolt for more money since New York can’t offer much, but if Glen Sather knows what’s best for the team, he’ll make sure that third line is locked up and ready to go in October.