In case you missed it, this past Friday Larry Brooks reported Michael Del Zotto may be in AV’s dog house, pointing to the fact he only played 2:59 in the third period against Columbus, and could potentially be moved. While I don’t doubt the coaching staff and organization as a whole may be losing their patience with MDZ, a trade still seems miss timed.
At this point, I’m not sure what kind of value MDZ would bring after a benching. While he has improved in his own zone since his rookie year, his offense still leaves much to be desired for a supposed ‘offensive defensemen’. As Brooksie pointed out, MDZ has only scored four power play goals in his last 255 games after scoring three power play goals in his first nine. Not exactly a trend worth boasting about.
When a young player’s production flatlines the way MDZ’s has, you tend to look at the coaching staff and see if perhaps they are misusing a player or not putting them in a position to succeed. However, in MDZ’s case, it’s hard if not impossible to blame those behind the bench.
According to Extraskater.com (the advanced stats site preferred by the hockey nerds), both Torts and AV have consistently deployed MDZ against third and fourth line competition, started him primarily in the offensive zone (after a whistle), and have given him over two and half minutes of power play time per game. You could make the argument that no one has done less with more.
From a systems stand point, the previous regime and AV both want their defensemen to be active in the offensive zone with forechecking, well-timed pinches, and joining the rush. So you can’t say coaching has hindered MDZ’s offense. And it’s not like the opportunities haven’t been there. Last season Del Zotto was in the top 25 in the league in missed shots among defensemen, but was outside of the top 70 in goals.
Beyond the numbers, I think the biggest problem is that Del Zotto is still playing the right side despite being a lefty. This makes it more difficult with holding the blueline along the wall in the OZ and coming up with and/or clearing pucks out of your own zone. The problem, at least from a roster perspective, is that he’s not taking the other left defensemen spots (McDonagh, Staal, and Moore) anytime soon.
Which brings us back to the trade rumor. Moving MDZ for another lefty is pointless. It would have to be for a righty. While AV and Arniel have both stated the desire for having another righty on the blueline, unfortunately they are hard to come by.
Right now only 1/3 of defensemen in the NHL are right-handed, so anyone elite will obviously come at a premium, which means more than MDZ would have to go the other way. With the way the Rangers are playing right now, does it make sense to start packaging players? Probably not. If the team rebounds, then maybe you make a move, as player value and team leverage could swing a little in our direction.
With a new coaching staff and system to learn the Rangers have had enough change to deal with this season. Maybe we should avoid trying to acquire a new toy to play with and just go with what we got for once. MDZ’s time to be moved will eventually come, likely before the season is over, but it doesn’t make sense at this point in the season."Rangers should avoid trade market",