Most players head to Europe during the lockout to keep in game shape. Clearly this is also a concern for Michael Del Zotto who, without an NHL contract, is taking more risk than most as he headed to Switzerland. However, there is another side to this, and that is Del Zotto making the Rangers management team realise how much the young defenseman is worth as the NHL tries to get back on the ice.
Make no mistake, the Ranger need Del Zotto on the ice when (if) the league resumes. He’s their best offensive blueliner (depending on your opinion of Ryan McDonagh’s current offensive level) who playes 21 minutes per game at a young age. Throw in the fact that the Rangers are without significant organisational depth at the position and that Del Zotto still has significant upside, and he becomes an important part of the Rangers present and future. Both the Rangers and Del Zotto know his core role going forward. What hasn’t been agreed yet is how much each side is willing to value that role with the organisation in terms of dollars.
Enter Del Zotto’s recent move to Switzerland. A good showing on the ice, with signs of development/progression in his game, and with a clear willingness shown to team brass that he’s willing to put the time and effort in, Del Zotto can directly influence just how much he will get when he eventually signs back in New York. Nine times out of ten it’s left to the agents and general managers to talk terms. Del Zotto can do the talking with his play in the Swiss league.
With an assist and a -1 rating in two games thus far, Del Zotto isn’t off to a rousing start. But then again Rapperswil-Jona have been struggling and find themselves, as they sit ninth in the twelve team Swiss league at present. With ten wins in 21 games, it’s hardly a strong start to the season. However this middling start can also be Del Zotto’s opportunity.
Upon his arrival, Del Zotto will have noted familiar faces such as David Aebsicher in net, Robbie Earl on the wing and Senators star center Jason Spezza leading the team offensively. So he isn’t without the help required to help get the club get back on track. If Del Zotto is able to lead the club back up the league standings that will surely help his bargaining position also.
Del Zotto will know of Tortorella’s preference to have players in game shape, ready for whenever a season starts. If he’s racking up points in Europe then Del Zotto stands to cash in. That’s a big IF though.