Another former Ranger is headed to Russia… actually, to be more specific, he’s headed to Prague. Erik Christensen, who also spent time with the Penguins, Thrashers, Ducks, and Wild has 60 goals and 91 assists for 151 points in 338 NHL games. One of Christensen’s main strengths has been his shootout ability, having gone 24 of 47 (51%) in career shootout attempts. Christensen joins Lev, a KHL team based out of Prague in the Czech Republic, where he’ll play with former NHLers Lubos Bartecko and Marcel Hossa.
Former Ranger Mats Zuccarello is Magnitogorsk-bound. While there was word that the diminutive Norwegian winger had inked a deal with a team in the KHL, word was that it was contingent on him not signing with another NHL club. It appears he’s decided to leave North America rather than wait and see what happens. As a Restricted Free Agent, the Rangers needed to make him a contract offer of only $850,000 to retain his rights in the NHL; had the Rangers declined to qualify Zuccarello, he would have become an unrestricted free agent. Talks with Zucarello’s agent and Glen Sather may have led him to believe that the Rangers planned on making the qualifying offer, leaving Zuccarello to accept a deal with the Rangers (rumored to be a two-way contract, which Zuccarello publicly stated he did not want), hold out, or hope for a trade.
Zuccarello was frustrated with his lack of playing time in New York, and with his time spent in the AHL, saying, ”I love everybody around here, but at the same time, I need to play. I can’t play 10 games. Ten games – that’s not enough for me.” In the 2011-12 season, Zuccarello had only two goals and one assist in those ten games. In 52 career NHL games with the Rangers, Zuccarello has 8 goals and 18 assists; he had 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points in 37 games with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL this past season. Assuming the Rangers do make the offer to Zuccarello, which, at this point, would be a formality, they would retain his North American rights.
“It’s incredibly sad that I have to leave the Rangers, but I had two great years there and it was a dream. But I felt it was time for the change. It’s KHL, and Magnitogorsk” – Zuccarello, to a Norwegian newspaper
Zuccarello joins a Magnitogorsk Metallurg team that boasts former NHLers Sergei Fedorov, Oleg Tverdovsky, Lasse Kukkonen, Danny Markov, and Enver Lisin (with whom he can commiserate about playing for the Rangers).
“Nyr fans!! its been amazing playing in front of u guys! Thanks! Im gonna miss u! Ur the best! Thanks rangers 4 2 good years.” – Mats Zuccarello, via Twitter
Reportedly, Zuccarello’s contract is for one year, with a one-year option for 2013-14 and an out clause that would allow him to return to the Rangers as a restricted free agent.
Also staying across the pond – moving about 650 miles south, to the other side of the Baltic Sea – is former first-round draft pick Rob Schremp, who has signed a two-year deal with Dynamo Riga. Selected 25th overall in the 2004 Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Schremp never seemed to fulfill his potential in the NHL, spending time with the Oilers, Islanders, and Thrashers — three teams who certainly would have welcomed his potential scoring ability. In 114 career NHL games, Schremp has 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points. In the 2011 offseason, the Thrashers – then on their way to Winnipeg – did not tender a qualifying offer to Schremp, making him an unrestricted free agent. Schremp played the 2011-12 season with Modo of the Swedish Elite League, where he picked up 19 goals and 22 assists in 55 games.
It’s also been reported that an unnamed KHL team has a “lucrative offer” on the table for head coach Paul Maurice, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. In 1084 games behind the bench, Maurice has amassed a career record of 460-457-99-69, for the Whalers, Hurricanes, and Maple Leafs.