To say that Michael Del Zotto had a rough sophomore year would be like saying Paris Hilton is only a little bit of a…err…a little bit promiscuous. Del Zotto struggled so mightily that he was demoted to the AHL, where he promptly broke a finger. Needless to say, he did not have an enjoyable year, and it led to vicious fans saying he was a bust, over rated, and that the Rangers should trade him. But have no fear, Wade Redden is here!
I mean that seriously folks. Redden has worked wonders with many of the Rangers defensive prospects, including Tomas Kundratek and Jyri Niemi. However, his masterpiece was his work with a certain prospect that has become a staple on the Rangers blue line. Rick Carpiniello nicknames him McMonster. His name is Ryan McDonagh…perhaps you’ve heard of him?
McDonagh struggled out of the gate in the AHL, as adjusting to the speed of the professional game seemed to be a bit much for the youngster. Insert Redden, who took the kid under his wing and the rest, as they say, is history.
Why not try to see if Redden can work his magic on Del Zotto? Both play a similar style of game, and Del Zotto’s issues seem to be a bit easier to deal with that McDonagh’s. After all, Del Zotto appears to have adjusted to the speed, he just can’t seem to pass the puck anymore. Redden, at one point in his career, was a premier NHL defenseman (insert “best first pass in the game” joke here). But seriously, if you didn’t want him on your team in the early 2000’s, you were crazy.
Del Zotto’s biggest issue is that he is forcing that home run pass, instead of making that simple pass up the ice to start the rush. That was a pass that Redden mastered before his game went the way of the dodo. This post is not designed to make Redden into a super hero, but it is designed to say that maybe, just maybe, Del Zotto could benefit from an extended stay with the CT Whale and with Redden as his defensive partner.
The talent is clearly there in Del Zotto, and the kid is barely even 21 years old. There is plenty of time for him to get his head back in the game and turn into a productive defender. Even if he just turns his offense around to the point where he can contribute, it’s a win. There are so many defensive minded guys on the blue line, that having one that can actually put the puck in the net would be beneficial to the Rangers, not detrimental.
Redden has worked wonders with the prospects, and he has played a significant role in the development of these prospects into legitimate players and defensive depth. Maybe it’s time to work with the one defenseman whose game most closely resembles his in his prime?