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Michael Del Zotto is safe in New York, for now

June 9, 2013, by
Del Zotto needs to improve, and he will be given the time to do so.

Del Zotto needs to improve, and he will be given the time to do so.

Michael Del Zotto is a whipping boy for many, and his underwhelming season hasn’t helped him convince certain groups of fans –and media– of his long-term future being in New York. That said, Del Zotto is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Depending on how the offseason plays out, the Rangers are not exactly blessed with a ton of offense from their blueline, emphasizing the need for an in-form Del Zotto. Unless John Moore’s development is a lot quicker than anticipated, Del Zotto remains the number one offensive blueliner in New York.

Then there is the relatively painful, drawn out contract situation that went on last offseason. Glen Sather doesn’t go through such a protracted –at times public– negotiation if he doesn’t a) believe the player is the right fit for the Rangers, or b) he doesn’t have viable alternatives. Del Zotto should factor into both aspects, as there are a clear lack of alternatives at any level of the Rangers system. Should Del Zotto find some consistency, his game fits well with the Rangers current DNA.

Critics of Del Zotto may point to Brandon Dubinsky’s contract troubles and his subsequent departure from the Rangers, but then again Dubinsky’s departure had a significant part to play in superstar Rick Nash’s arrival. Should Sather have a similar opportunity involving Del Zotto, no one would bemoan a similar return.

With a $2.55m cap hit, Del Zotto is relatively affordable for a club that will need to concentrate their spending elsewhere this offseason. Factor in his young age, and the assumption is that Del Zotto hasn’t fulfilled his potential. At 22-years-old, Del Zotto has two 35+ point seasons and already boasts exactly 250 career regular season games. It’s not easy to find that kind of experience and solid production at his age and, especially at that price tag.

Another aspect favouring Del Zotto is that retaining the blueliner also reduces any transition the blueline needs to go through before next season. We have seen how difficult it was for the Rangers’ forwards to develop consistency after going through significant change prior to this year, so don’t discount this factor..

Del Zotto is far from irreplaceable, and his status in New York isn’t without doubt because of the simple fact that he hasn’t developed any consistency in his career to date, and his playoff performances have –for the most part– left fans and team management wanting more. That all said, several dominos have to fall in place for Del Zotto to be moved out of town. A new coach will have to come in, not like what he sees, and then the team will need to find a taker, one that can give the Rangers something that they need in return.

Del Zotto can still improve. At 22, several high-profile blueliners around the league were not as far down the line as Del Zotto is, so patience may be all that’s called for. Even if it isn’t, Rangers fans will have to live through at least one more season of Michael Del Zotto. For better or for worse.

Categories : Defense


  1. Czechthemout!!! says:

    Mdz is not safe by any stretch. Although I think Torts ruined his development, a lot of what ailes him is of his own doing. He has terrible hockey sense,and his decision making stinks. He is a poor skater. He has no shot, wrist or slap. His shots never ever get to the net. He cowers away from contact to make a play. His positioning is awful more times than not. Other than that, he is ok.

    I also wanted to comment on something said here about Big Buff and his poor skating. I had to laugh when I read that here. I am new to your blog and do enjoy reading it. Do me a favor, before you comment on a player, do some research on him. Buff is a big dude. He weighs 250 lbs but he is and excellent skater, especially for a guy his size. You compared MDZ’s skating to his as if mdz was a better skater. Those types of comparisons make me question the credability of this blog. Buff is ten times the player that is MDZ. We would be lucky to get him.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for commenting. First of all let me agree that I would prefer, in the short term, to have Buff. He’s more impactful brings size and an edge we don’t have enough of and yes, he has a great shot. BUT, he’s the kind of player that gets bad quickly, given his size. He could be a player that goes south in a hurry.

      …And MDZ is not a bad skater. Is he a McDonagh on the blueliner or a Hagelin type? of course not, but his skating does not cost him nor does it hold him back.

      Also, he does not shy away from physical play. On the contrary. He has developed that side of his game. Could it be better? Much. But its improving and he’s certainly not shy. Yes, his positional sense is suspect but even that has improved.

      I too question his decision making however and his shot is sub standard however you make him sound like a marginal NHL player and I’m pretty sure there are numerous teams that would covet him.

      Thanks for commenting though. Even if i don’t agree with all of your comment, that’s the point of a comments section; debate.

      • cv1919 says:

        Doesn’t shy away from contact?! We weren’t watching the same kid. He went into the corners sideways more often than I’ve ever seen a player at this level do so. It seemed obvious to many of us who watched him throughout the playoffs that he wasn’t squaring up. And I’m partial to the Italian kids.

      • Czechthemout!!! says:

        I dont think he is marginal but he is only a number 5-6, thats it. He does not have good lateral speed either. And he absolutly turns away to avoid a hit. If you think he could fetch anything other than third line forward or a #5 or 6 dman or more than a second round draft pick than you are over valuing him.

        Buff is only 27. He still has at least 5-6 elite seasons in him. I was not comparing the two at all because candidly, there is no comparison. As for big guys wearing down, Chara seems to be doing ok and Pronger played at an elite level until age 34 so I am not worried. But at this point Buff is a pipe dream.

  2. @NYRFan_RF says:

    The only way I would be ok parting with Del Zotto is if it were part of a deal to get The Rangers a 1st round draft pick in this years Entry Draft. He has way too much potential to just throw him away. He’s surely not overpaid and hasn’t reached his ceiling just yet. I agree, patience with a 22 year old Defensmen is the best option. I’m sure a new coach will want a year at least to work with him. He played very well for most of the regular season this year.

    • Chris says:

      I know we want draft picks but not at the expense of this roster. This roster is starting to enter its window to contend. Moving core players for draft picks that wont be playing for several years would, in the interim, be a step back this club cannot afford.

      • Walt says:

        Agree, except that there are potential franchise players out there this year that will crack the line up of many teams. The Jones kid is a good example of what I’ talking about.

      • Czechthemout!!! says:

        With all due respect, MDZ is not a core player. Never was, never will be. He is a nice 5-6 dman. To give you an example of how truly insignificant he is, would you trade Torrey Krug for him straight up? Cause I bet you Boston would not.

        • Ren says:

          While krug has been somewhat of an impact player for Boston(much like kerider was for us last year) it is not like he is not getting favorable ice. He has yet to experience the trials and tribulations of a full regular season. So with this small sample size I am going to agree with you, but I wouldn’t be so fast to jump ships so to speak (i.e Kreider)

          • Czechthemout!!! says:

            Kreider should have been cemented into the lineup either on the first or second line, not given 3 minutes a night on the fourth line and then sent down because he “was not ready ” he sure looked ready last playoofs. In fact, his mis handling by Torts is one of a significant number of reasons why Torts is unemplyed.

            • Ren says:

              You can speculate that is the case, And might very well be. However, the fact of the matter is that he probably should have spent the whole season in the whale. He is to valuable to this franchise to be miss handled. It is tough to bring a rookie along in a shortened season where your struggling to make the playoffs. The margin for error is much smaller. He was brought in because we didn’t have the depth.

  3. Ren says:

    It would have to be a very favorable trade to let delz go before the draft. While inconsitant has be the best way to describe him, he could still develop into a really good player. I believe he has sacrificed a lot of his offensive game to be better defensively. And while some of his gaffes are huge, he is able to enter the offensive zone and make plays in leetch like fashion. Another assist of his is his long homerun pass from the backend, which was really absent this year(although he would do it a little too much:not fully utilizing delz a reason for torts pink slip ?). Perhaps the coaching change will help him and he will hopefully see success like his friends Tavares and stamkos. I thought torts handled him well at times and poorly at others.

    • Czechthemout!!! says:

      Comparing Leetch to MDZ is like comparing gold to you know what.

      Please stop insulting Leetch.

      • Ren says:

        I didn’t say he is the next leetch, i drew a one comparison to one aspect of his game. Sometimes I feel like the rangers fan base has a lot to do with their shortcomings. See rosival, ex whipping boy playing 25min for Chicago in the western conference finals. So next time come up with a reasonable retort before you look silly again.

    • supermaz says:

      Did you just say MDZ and Leetch in the same sentence?

  4. Ray says:

    Not to say that MDZ will be traded, but i hardly would call him safe. The Rangers have four left Dmen. It just makes sense to trade one of them for something the Rangers need. Now Moore is inexpensive and likely has much less trade value, so he seems the guy not to trade. Unless you’re writing off Staal, one of MDZ, McD, Staal should be traded.

  5. paulronty says:

    Only draft pick that Gordie Clark made that really disappointed me was MDZ. I really, really wanted the Rangers to take Jordan Eberle cause I loved the way he played.

    • Walt says:

      I would agree 100% with you on this one!!

      The reason MDZ looked so good in jrs. were his team mates, Stamkos, and Tavares. He had a load of talent around him, hence looked good. This was the same arguement between Tyler Vs Tailer, and the Oilers picked the wrong kid. Should be interesting to see where Jones goes, and how good he really turns out to be!!

  6. Sully says:

    I would love to see MDZ traded for BOGO not buff
    They are loaded with Rd we have LD if the money

  7. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers were the Eastern champs last year. This year they lost in the second round to a Boston team that just beat the Penquins 4 straight. The front office has recently fired their coach, now there is talk of moving out this player and that player. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Hockey is all about team chemistry, once it is lost, it is very hard to get it back. Look at Pittsburg and Vancouver, all those big name stars and they have been absolutely brutal in the playoffs.

  8. tom murphy says:

    DelZotto is still very young and next year will show what he can do playing without the fear of being humiliated by Tortorella.

  9. Brian says:

    Shouldn’t we wait until next year to decide if any young players should be traded or not? I’d say yes to trading him if Torts was still around, but the new coach changes everything. Let whoever it turns out to be see the players. Who knows? It’s happened plenty of times where a young player finally breaks out under a new coaching system. No reason it couldn’t happen with DZ.

  10. supermaz says:

    I can’t see how you can say Del Zotto is the number one offensive talent.
    You can make a case for Staal, McDonagh, Stralman, Moore, or even Girardi. He has not shown me anything to put him as our #1 offensive d-man.

    • Ren says:

      Yeah totally right, he has only led the rangers blue line with points 3 of the past 4 seasons. When he didn’t in 2010-11 he only played 47 games.

  11. Lou says:

    MDZ has to be trade bait. The fact is he has NOT developed into an offensive threat expected and his defensive skills are insufficient.

    Dmen are either mean hitters (not MDZ), slick puck movers (not), or shot blocking/steady stay at home types (not).

    While I do believe his game has improved – that is precisely why the trade needs to occur now while his trade value remains.

    Next year’s D are:
    Girardi – McD
    McIllrath – Moore
    Strallman – Stall
    (with extra D being play-maker / big shot type.

    A trade of MDZ for Bog, Buff, Tyler Myers or big winger would be significant upgrade.

  12. Erixon20 says:

    While I agree with MDZ’s shortcomings (esp decision-making and a failure to get his shot thru), he is very young and has played a ton of hockey. And in this league, Dmen take a few extra years to develop as a rule, when compared to how a forward would develop. That said, Hank’s window is starting to close, which is the only reason I’d package MDZ for someone like Big Buff that can help now and in the future (Hank’s window). He may be our best trade bait.

  13. Bitter Zen says:

    MDZ can look like crap one second and then make a great play the next. He was 6th in scoring for the Rangers on a team where the D men don’t score. The guy will put up 40-50 points in a season not many D men do that. If he could straighten out his shot and take figure skating lessons from Dorothy Hammel you never know.

  14. Hockey talk says:

    Delzaster is a horrid skater horrid passer horrid pp player horrid shooter horrid defender. Kid panics when he hears foot steps his vision is horrid. There is not upside to a kid who in four seasons has gotten worse every season. He never wins fifty fifty pucks he never comes out of the corner with the puck he consistently turns the puck over in key areas any player with any kind of skating blows past delzaster like they would a cone. H plays the man when he should play the puck plays the puck when he should play the man. Never ties the man up infront. Makes bone head decisions which leave us to defend odd man rushes. Bottom line is he’s on the ice for more goals against then any other player on the team he was the worst player on the team yet again in the offseason. He’s a terrible defender if the oilers want him let them have him he’s useless.

  15. Frank Cerbone says:

    MDZ was a -25 his 1st 2 yrs in the NHL and a +26 his last 2 years. Anyone following the Rangers Ottowa games knows that tough guy Chris Neil dislikes/but respects MDZ because MDZ has leveled Neil a number of times over the last couple of seasons. Staal is a big guy who plays small-a poor man’s version of Dales Rolfe who was like a +125 over 5 seasons with the Rangers. Staal (20)came into the NHL older than MDZ (19)and yet MDZ has already bypassed him in almost every csreer category already. Plus, Staal is fragile, easily intimidated, and makes more than MDZ. One of the reasons I hated the Rangers drafting Brady Skjei with our #1 pick was because both Saal & Skjei’s scouting report looked the same “very good size, is not physical enough, hit him a couple of times early in a game and he disappears”