Looking At The Michael Del Zotto Rumors

December 21, 2010, by

When news broke that the Rangers inquired about Fedor Tyutin, the rumor mill became very active. Now that news has broken that the Columbus Blue Jackets inquired about Michael Del Zotto, the rumor-mongering exploded. But let’s take a step back for a moment. Both inquiries came when the respective player was a healthy scratch from the lineup. Nothing (that we know of) came from these inquiries. It’s a safe assumption that these inquiries were just tire kicking, and general managers doing their jobs.

But let’s look at the theoretical MDZ trade. First, analyzing what exactly MDZ brings to a lineup. He is a young puck moving defenseman who had a very productive rookie season. Although he is struggling offensively this year, especially on the power play, his defense has been a huge improvement from his -20 rating last season. He has seen his share of criticism this year, with only some of it –the healthy scratch with homework–earned. The fans are unfairly giving him the Tom Poti treatment, which is utterly ridiculous. However, despite that, he is excelling at the defensive portion of his position, and considering he is a defenseman, that’s probably the best route to take. The offense will come, especially considering his skill, once he works out the kinks in his game and gets more adjusted to the defensive aspect of his position.

It would take an awful lot to pry MDZ from the Rangers’ grasp, and probably a severe overpayment. If he were to be traded to Columbus, there are likely a few players that are marked as “untouchable”, such as Derek Brassard and Rick Nash. It is likely that Tyutin would be one of the people coming back. But Tyutin is just a start in a package that would land MDZ in Columbus. Tyutin, as we know, is a left-handed defenseman who plays a physical game. He has been playing in some very defensive systems with Tom Renney and Ken Hitchcock throughout the years, but has been struggling in new head coach Scott Arniel’s system. So much so that he has been a healthy scratch for a few games this year.

With Tyutin as one piece, it is safe to assume that the Rangers would ask for Nikita Filatov as a second piece to this deal. His name has been thrown around recently, mostly in regards to what it would take to get MDZ. Filatov, the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft (MDZ was 20th overall), has struggled mightily in the NHL. He has played parts of three seasons thus far, and has amounted a line of 6-7-13 in those three seasons (44 games). The skill level on Filatov is undeniable, but he has yet to put it all together. The 20 year old winger was recently demoted to the AHL because of these struggles. In four games with the Springfield Falcons, Filatov has two assists. Considering Filatov’s struggles, and the quick trigger on the “bust” phrase nowadays, the Rangers will want more than just Tyutin and Filatov in exchange for MDZ. Filatov is all potential and no results as of this moment, and it appears he is quickly losing favor in the Columbus organization. Jakub Voracek is an interesting name here, but for all intents and purposes, he and Filatov are interchangeable (one or the other makes no real difference) in this deal.

With Tyutin and Filatov already agreed upon, Glen Sather would be wise to ask for a first round pick as well. Tyutin is not a puck moving defenseman, and has struggled in keep up in the new faster paced Columbus system, much like one that John Tortorella employs. Replacing MDZ with Tyutin is a downgrade on defense. Filatov is not NHL ready, and although he is just 20 years old, he is losing favor very quickly in the organization. If he continues to fall, he may be had for cheap(er), much like the way Bobby Sanguinetti fell out of favor with the Rangers. So throwing in the first round pick gives the Rangers at least fair value for MDZ.

So is Tyutin, Filatov, and a first round pick fair value for Del Zotto? Probably. Would the Rangers pull the trigger? I highly doubt it. MDZ is a one of a kind defenseman. He is a puck moving defenseman that can quarterback the powerplay, and is having a decent defensive season this year. Guys like MDZ don’t come around that often. The defensemen in the Rangers system do not have this skill set either. The closest thing the Rangers have to a defenseman like that is Tomas Kundratek, as Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko are not an MDZ type player. So in that regard, MDZ is invaluable to the Rangers. Sure, they can sign a free agent, but they don’t have a prospect in the system that can replace him.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have plenty of young winger who can score, making Filatov less valuable to the Rangers. Guys like Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, Christian Thomas, and Ethan Werek have great offensive potential as wingers. Their presence makes someone like Filatov even less of a trade chip for the Rangers. From a team value standpoint, MDZ is more valuable to the Rangers organization than a package of Tyutin and Filatov, even if it does include a first round draft pick, one that doesn’t even project to be a top-ten pick. The Rangers will likely hold on to Del Zotto unless an offer blows them away, and this offer does not do it. Trades work differently than free agent signings. Fair market value and fair team value are not equal in trades. MDZ means more to the Rangers than market value dictates, thus he likely will not be traded.


  1. Gleb says:

    Way too early to even THINK about trading MDZ. My prediction is: He’ll turn his production way up in the second half of this season and he’ll have a great next year and the future. He is one of the pieces that are a little loose now but will fall in a great picture over the next 3 years.

    • Dave says:

      I think he will struggle offensively, but play the decent defense he has been playing all year. Next year he will start putting it all together.

  2. Mark says:

    I would not be opposed to a deal with Columbus. A few years ago I was very impressed with the Girardi Tyutin line and actually thought it was our better defensive pairing. I was surprised when we let Tyutin go. I personally think Tyutin has an upside when put in the right scheme, which Torts’ probably isn’t, but a reunion of Girardi and him could be exciting. Eminger is a stop gap and Rosival only has a year or 2 left with us.An exhange of MDZ for Tyutin isn’t the worst as long as we are getting other pieces in return. DO NOT GET ME WRONG, if it’s straight up, definitely not, but this article was very good in saying the rangers could get a pick, a player, and Tyutin. I like Filitov’s upside too. He could be an exciting player to match w/ Gabby and with the way Sather has been drafting I am a little more confident that with 2 #1’s he could add to the core of youth 3 more guys (Tyutin, Filitov, #1 pick) rather then just the one MDZ…

    good article… gave something to think about.

    • Dave says:

      I would want Brassard in any deal involving MDZ. They need a #1 center, and he is one.

  3. Section 121 says:

    Stepan is putting up the same production as Brassard with just about the same amount of ice time and he is three years younger at age 20. AA is also putting up similar numbers with similar ice time and he’s also younger than Brassard. Brassard is not needed.

    Yes some of them are young, but we have a glut of centers; AA, Stepan, Dubinsky (i’ll say it again, should be our top line center), Drury, Boyle, EC…

    Center is not a position in which we are lacking.

    I like Tyutin but only if we still had other young offensive defensemen options, like Bobby Sangs, would I consider dealing MDZ at this extremely early stage, even then, only a maybe.

    • pa.rangersfan says:

      Interesting take on the center position. Dubinsky is much better suited for the wing as he has excelled at that spot this Season so far. Drury is also a better winger than centre. Stepan and AA are centres for sure but neither is a #1 at this time.

      • Section 121 says:

        I think Dubi would be excelling the same regardless of position. He’s just older and realizing his potential as an NHLer. Remember, he centered Jagr for a good part of his rookie year and scored 40.

        How is Brassard considered a top line center when his highest point total is 36pts? Dubi has scored 40 or more in his first three yrs with 44 in 69 games last yr. It was clear that he was going to put up more this year. Why is Brassard respected as a top line center and Dubi is not? Is it b/c the coaches in Columbus actually believe in their players and give them the time in the position? B/C they were picked in different rounds? What gives?

        • Dave says:

          That 08-09 season really sticks out in my mind. He got hurt while he was on a 70 point pace. I like his game too.

  4. says:

    I agree that there’s little to no chance of Sather trading MDZ unless the offer is over the top in favor of the Rangers. But, I disagree that wholeheartedly with the assessment that MDZ is “excelling at the defensive portion of his position.” IMO he has been pretty atrocious this year at both ends of the ice. I like that he’s picked up his physical play, but often when he goes for the big hit he’s caught way out of position. He’s having a serious sophomore slump, at least that’s all I hope this is.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      “improving at the defensive portion” is more appropriate. He’s made some glaring mistakes, but is his defensive play is improving. There’s a lot of work to do before he is excelling.

    • Dave says:

      Excelling compared to last year.

  5. w1bbles says:

    This lust for Tyutin is BS. He’s not all that great.
    Forget about him.

    MDZ will be very good. He requires a break from the club and some time in Hartford. His head is exploding from trying to figure things out. NOT good.

    Give the guy a break. Big load on his shoulders. Help him out John and Glenn and let him discover his game in Hartford.

    I don’t want to see Tyutin again in a Rangers jersey. Nothing to get excited about with him, AT ALL.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      You can’t send MDZ to Hartford, he’s waiver eligible, and there isn’t a chance in hell he clears waivers.

  6. mug25 says:

    People keep using this “Powerplay Quarterback” label on Del Zotto — I dont understand why. Has anyone using that label actually watched the Rangers on the Powerplay over the past season and a half?

    Let’s say Del Zotto continues to struggle with his offense. Let’s say he improves he defense ever so slightly. Trading him should not be the first option.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending him down to play with the Whale for a week or two to get his act together. Benching him for one game and having him write an essay has seemingly done nothing for his offense.

    For all of the hype and praise Del Zotto receives, I sure hope he picks up his production AND improves his defensive skills.

  7. Glenda Fletcher says:

    This lust for Tyutin is BS. He’s not all that great. Forget about him. MDZ will be very good. He requires a break from the club and some time in Hartford. His head is exploding from trying to figure things out. NOT good. Give the guy a break. Big load on his shoulders. Help him out John and Glenn and let him discover his game in Hartford. I don’t want to see Tyutin again in a Rangers jersey. Nothing to get excited about with him, AT ALL.