Del Zotto’s Waiver Status A Concern

August 30, 2011, by

As I touched on yesterday, Michael Del Zotto only has 33 NHL games left before he is no longer exempt from waivers.  For those who are not as well-versed on waivers as I, what that means is that after Del Zotto plays his 33rd NHL game, he can no longer be sent to the AHL –other than for conditioning assignments– without being subject to waivers.  To make matters worse, Del Zotto is probably penciled in to the bottom pairing, and any signs of struggle will force the Rangers hand, maybe a bit prematurely.

Don’t think for a second that the 33 game “limit” (I use this term loosely) on Del Zotto isn’t going to play into management’s decision to keep him around.  If there is any sign of struggle from Del Zotto in camp, you can surely expect him to start the season with the CT Whale until they know for a fact that he is ready.  It also means that if Del Zotto will have a shorter leash than most.  There is a 100% guarantee that Del Zotto would be claimed on waivers, so once 33 games hits, demotion is no longer an option.

The 33 game “limit” (again, used loosely) will also have an effect on the bottom defense pairing competition.  With Tim Erixon likely to make the roster, and Steve Eminger a guarantee to make the roster, then the Rangers are looking at a hole for the seventh defenseman.  You can be sure that they won’t put a kid in the seventh defenseman role, so if MDZ struggles, we might actually see Brendan Bell on this team as an insurance policy.

There’s also the scenario that a kid, like Tomas Kundratek, plays his way on to the roster.  If that’s the case, then Eminger is likely to be the seventh guy.  Would the Rangers keep Erixon around and send Del Zotto down because of the games limit?

Note: In this scenario, I would assume that both Erixon and Del Zotto have good camps, just the kid (Kundratek in this case) outplays them.  Much like the Mike Sauer situation last year.

This is one of those rare occasions where there is more involved with the Rangers decisions than just performance on the ice.  It serves no purpose to have a kid playing the seventh defenseman role, but a short waiver limit gives Del Zotto an equally short leash.  This is actually one of those issues where camp may not solve the problem.


  1. Mikeyyyy says:

    Mdz is in a bit of a pickle. There is an expectation for him to generate offense. While the other d candidates are just expected to play solid.

    This isna good thing as mdz has a lot of potential. So it’s good in a sense that he will be on a short leash here.

    He just hasn’t been the same since malkin’s skate gashed his chest open.

    Hopefully he can put the pieces of his game together to make the roster.

    But honestly the likes of Ericson. Kundratek , and even Bell are decent players to have to fill that bottom pair. Expect all of these guys to scrap it out for that spot. Which will make camp exciting.

    While the gap right now is that bottom pair. It will be filled by the best player available on the roster.

    Don’t forget about injuries. The rangers were lucky to have their d men so healthy while jumping I’m front of howitzer shots to keep the puck away from Hank. This year I predict that there will be quite a shuffle of wounded players. As they amp up their playing to stay in the roster.

  2. Walt says:

    Lets face it, MDZ has to prove himself worthy of making the team. I like the kid, and hope he does well, but he has to be serious about his career with the Rangers. The first year with the team he became a party animal, and it came back to bite him in the seat of his pants. Lets hope he learned from that, and that he is committed to his playing career. Unlike his rookie season, the need for a shooting point man isn’t what it was then, and he has to play an all around defensive game to stand a chance of making the team. Here’s to him busting his hump, making the team, and having a long productive stay with the Rangers, lets say a good 12 to 15 year run. Good luck Mike, I’ll be pulling for you!!!!!

  3. jxmarts says:

    Why no mention of Valentenko? He’s 24 and played as well as he’s ever going to play for the Whale last year. Granted the are questions about his skating, but he has nothing left to accomplish in the AHL. If the Rangers send him down again at his age, they are basically writing him off as an NHLer. At the very least, he should be in the discussion along with the likes of Eminger and Bell. Even Kuntradek was mentioned as a candidate, who really should not be considered as a 7th defenseman at all.

    • jxmarts says:

      I realize that Kuntradek was mentioned not as a 7th defenseman, but you know that Torts will rotate the 6th defenseman with the 7th. I just can’t see a player as young and with as little pro experience as Kuntradek in that role. V-Tank is older, and both MDZ and Erixon (elite league) have more big time experience to fall back on.

    • Dave says:

      I’m not sold on Valentenko, I like Kundratek more, although I think both are trade bait at this point.

      • jxmarts says:

        I just think Kundratek stands to benefit much more from another year with the Whale. In a year or 2, he can be a gem. At 24, V-tank is better suited for the 6/7th d-man role with the Rangers. Moreover, I think V-Tank will stagnate if he gets sent down at this stage in his career. If he can’t make the team, they need to trade him even for another minor leaguer or a late round pick.

      • Tim-May says:

        The Tank is this year’s Sauer.

  4. Zen says:

    I’m not so sure that management thinks either V-tank or Kuntradek are ready yet for the NHL yet. And given the talent that the Rangers have in the pipeline and on the current roster, I wonder if either will ever make it the Rangers.

  5. The Suit says:

    My hunch is that Erixon and MDZ are going to make it. I think Torts needs guys who can get the puck up ice in this system, and I’d bet he’d be willing to live with some defensive miscues for the sake of offense from the blueline.

    Is it the best scenario in the world? No, but Cam Fowler wasn’t good in his own end either, as were a long line of other young guns cracking the NHL these days. You gotta take the good with the bad with some of these prospects who are high risk/high reward.

    Kundy and V-Tank aren’t elite puck movers and we’re not going to roll out 7 stay at home defensemen. Hopefully the Blueshirt faithful will show MDZ and Erixon some patience.

    • John says:

      good catch Dave, hadn’t thought about the waivers situation MDZ may be in.

      I agree with Mr. Suit here. I say its nearly definite that one of Erixon and MDZ makes it out of camp and I think it’s probable that both make it. Torts system needs guys who can move the puck from the back line and make the stretch passes that can spring odd man rushes. MDZ is definitely capable of both and I give him an edge over Erixon as far as making the team out of camp. Not that I really have anything to compare too since I haven’t seen much of him, but coming over to the NA rinks/style of game may warrant the Rangers to proceed w/ caution in regards to Erixon. Highly touted or not, he’s still a rookie with little experience on this size of the pond.

  6. pavel says:

    The problem with DZ is that the Rangers brought him up too early. If your grooming someone to be your “powerplay quarterback”, you’ve got to be patient. Make them spend a year or two in the minors working on becoming a dominant all-around defenseman because I honestly think d-men who are only good for playing on the powerplay is a waste of a roster spot.

  7. Jeff says:

    Tank would have to clear waivers as well

    • Dave says:

      No he doesn’t. His contract slid. The first “real” year of his contract was last year, not 2007.

  8. ArtyFan says:

    Richie will be our QB, but nobody can shoot from the point like VTank plus he is stronger than Sauer,just one thing …skating. Re MDZ… well, let him prove to himself first in CT and establish his game and confidence. He let lead too many rushes against us which he created all the time. I’m not sold on his return. Kondratek need at least 1 more year.

  9. rob sahm says:

    i hate to say this but if there is no spot on the team for him instead of wasting him away in hartford trade him for a veteran offensive d man

  10. Zack says:

    Staal Girardi
    McDonaugh Del Zotto
    Sauer Erixon

    If Del Zotto or Emminger aren’t on the roster than we really have no offensive defensemen at all. Sure Staal may develop his offensive skills because hes big and strong on the puck, same with McDonaugh. But Del Zotto is still the most talented offensive player out of this group and deserves a shot to make the team and run the PP to start the season. Worst case scenario, he’s lost out there after 15-20 games and he gets sent down. I’m sure Sather knows there’s a 33 game judgement period and will make moves accordingly. To have him start off in Hartford is stupid though.

  11. jim says:

    Does the 33 game limit tick off if DZ is the 7th D and is a scratch?

  12. nyrfan121 says:

    What if we traded DelZotto? He can easily get us a 1st round pick or a pair of picks between the second and third round. He can be a great defenseman but right now with these plethora of defensemen on our roster can it be time to trade for a better offensive forward prospect?

    • The Suit says:

      The Rangers aren’t going to trade MDZ and even if they wanted to, we wouldn’t get a good deal on his return anyway.

      Why trade a kid with potential for a second or third round pick? What if he turns out to be a great player and all we have to show for it is a 2nd rounder?

      On the flip side. Elite offensive d-men are few and far between. No one is going to trade us their best offensive d-man for an unproven 20 year old.