Mats André Zuccarello Aasen (born September 1, 1987) is a Norwegian professional ice hockey winger currently playing for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Prior to joining the NHL, he played for Modo Hockey in the Swedish Elite League. In 2010, he won the Guldhjälmen (Golden Helmet), awarded annually to the most valuable player in the Swedish Hockey League.
At the age of five, he began playing hockey in Hasle-Løren. After some years in Hasle-Løren, he started playing for Vålerenga, where he stayed until the end of lower secondary school. By that time, he had been scouted by Frisk Asker, which offered him a scholarship at the Norwegian College of Elite Sport, which he accepted.
Norway and Sweden
Zuccarello began playing full-time for Frisk in the GET-ligaen, Norway's premiere league, as an 18-year-old. He scored eight points over 21 games a is a rookie in 2005–06. The following season, he improved to 59 points over 43 games, third in league scoring behind Jonas Solberg Andersen and Mathis Olimb. In 2007–08, Zuccarello helped the Tigers to the best regular season record in the league. Zuccarello finished third in league scoring a second consecutive season with 64 points, as he and Tigers teammates Chris Abbott, Cam Abbott and Marcus Eriksson ranked as the top four GET-ligaen scorers. Zuccarello added 27 points in 15 playoff games, as the Tigers advanced to the Finals, where they were defeated in six games by the Storhamar Dragons.
After three seasons in the GET-ligaen, Zuccarello signed with Modo Hockey of the Elitserien, Sweden's premier league. In his first season with Modo, he ranked third in team scoring with 40 points in 35 games. The following season, he led the team with 23 goals. With a league-leading 64 points, he was awarded the Guldhjälmen as the league's most valuable player, as voted by Elitserien players.
New York Rangers
In the summer of 2010, Zuccarello was signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL) to a two-year, entry-level contract. He started the 2010–11 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, to adapt to the North American style of hockey and rink dimensions. On December 22, 2010, he was called up to the Rangers following an injury to right winger Marián Gáborík. He made his NHL debut on December 23, 2010, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the seventh Norwegian player to play in the NHL, as well as the second undrafted one. Zuccarello logged 17 minutes and 52 seconds of ice time and registered two shots on goal in his NHL debut. As the game remained tied after overtime, Zuccarello scored in the shootout against Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis. The Rangers, however, lost the game 4–3. Though he was reassigned to the Whale immediately after the game, the Rangers recalled him once more for their next game on December 27 against the New York Islanders. He earned his first NHL assist during the contest, tying defenceman Anders Myrvold for the Norwegian player with the fewest number of games played before recording an NHL point. The Rangers won the game 7–2. Nine days later, in his sixth game, Zuccarello scored his first NHL goal against goaltender Cam Ward three minutes into overtime, leading the Rangers to a 2–1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. On April 1, 2011 he was reassigned to Connecticut after playing 41 games for the Rangers.
On April 13, 2011, Zuccarello became only the second Norwegian to take part in NHL post-season action when the Rangers lost 2–1 against the Washington Capitals.
On June 1, 2012, Zuccarello confirmed that he had signed a two-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). However, he returned to the NHL and the Rangers after the 2012–13 NHL lockout.
Return to Rangers
On March 28, 2013, Zuccarello agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the New York Rangers. Zuccarello played in the last 15 games of the 2012–13 campaign, helping the Rangers reach the post-season. He played in all 12 Ranger playoff games, tallying his first playoff goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Washington Capitals.
Zuccarello re-signed with the Rangers at the end of the 2012–13 season for another one-year deal, this time worth $1.15 million. The 2013–14 season turned out to be a breakout season for Zuccarello. He tallied career highs in goals, assists and team-highs in points, as his contributions helped the Rangers reach the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, where they faced-off against the Los Angeles Kings. Although New York lost the series 4–1, Zuccarello made history by becoming the first Norwegian to ever participate in a Stanley Cup Final. His all-around game also took a step forward throughout the season, as he established himself as a hard worker with the ability to get under the skin of his opponents. His work was recognized by being awarded the 2013–14 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.
On July 22, 2014, Zuccarello agreed to a one-year deal with the Rangers worth $3.5 million.
During the 2014–15 season, Zuccarello agreed to a four-year, $18 million contact worth $4.5 million annually that extends through to the 2018–19 season. He finished fifth on the team in scoring, playing a large role with linemate Rick Nash, having the second-most goals in the NHL, as the Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy with the League's best regular season record. Early into the 2015 NHL Playoffs, Zuccarello was hit in the head by a shot by his own teammate, Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh. It was determined that Zuccarello suffered a serious brain contusion and concussion, and most likely would miss the rest of the playoffs. But rumors escalated as the Rangers continued their run that he may be available if the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 games in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals, ending their season.
In the beginning of the 2015–2016 NHL season, Zuccarello got off to a fast start in his return, quickly becoming the team leader in scoring. On October 30, Zuccarello recorded a hat-trick (The first of his NHL career) against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and on November 15, he scored the game-winning goal in another game against the Maple Leafs, with less than one minute remaining in regulation. His performance, coupled with his tremendous effort, especially returning to the ice after the aformentioned injury the previous postseason, resulted in Zuccarello again winning the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in 2015-16.
Zuccarello was named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy for the 2015–16 season.
Zuccarello has represented Norway at the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada, the 2009 IIHF World Championship, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany.
- 2010: Gullpucken (NIHF)
- 2010: Guldhjälmen (SHL)
- 2013–14: Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (NHL)
- 2015–16: Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (NHL)
Regular season and playoffs
|2010–11||New York Rangers||NHL||42||6||17||23||4||1||0||0||0||2|
|2011–12||New York Rangers||NHL||10||2||1||3||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|2012–13||New York Rangers||NHL||15||3||5||8||8||12||1||6||7||4|
|2013–14||New York Rangers||NHL||77||19||40||59||32||25||5||8||13||20|
|2014–15||New York Rangers||NHL||78||15||34||49||45||5||0||2||2||0|
|2015–16||New York Rangers||NHL||81||26||35||61||34||5||1||1||2||4|
|2004||Norway Jr.||WJC U18||6||0||2||2||8|
|2005||Norway Jr.||WJC U18 (D1)||5||2||3||5||6|
|2007||Norway Jr.||WJC (D1)||5||2||5||7||2|