Dreger expects Rangers to trade Zuccarello

Mats Zuccarello is in the final season of his contract, and the veteran winger will likely be on the move to a different NHL locale before too long.

Darren Dreger had a Wednesday evening pregame TV hit on NBCSN before the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off, and was asked if he thought Zuccarello would be dealt before the February 25 trade deadline.

“I do,” indicated Dreger. “And for the obvious reasons. He’s a veteran forward who is going to augment what some teams may have in their push to contend for a Stanley Cup. But we’re not uncovering a deep, dark secret here when we look at the players who are in play for the New York Rangers - they’re all with expiring contracts.

“And as you guys touched on before the break, the New York Rangers were very up front with fan base to say, ‘We are going through a renovation phase here.’

“Mats Zuccarello has been an excellent New York Ranger. He’s a quality leader inside that room, on the ice as well. At 31 years of age, he has room left to deliver some pretty good hockey.

“But not the direction the New York Rangers would be going in to sign him.”

Zuccarello is in the final season of his four-year, $18 million contract, which carries a $4.5 million cap hit and is without any trade protection written into it for this season.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly