With Michael Del Zotto sitting out tonight against Montreal as a healthy scratch, the trade rumors swirled again. This time Renaud Lavoie, a reporter from Montreal, noted that he is hearing Del Zotto could be had. Suit covered the possibility of a trade, specifically a Del Zotto trade, last week. Without rehashing the entire post, the trade rumors are a bit ill-timed. While it it likely the Rangers are willing to part with Del Zotto, it is unlikely they will just trade him. They will need something they can use in return.
Of course, they need a right-handed defenseman. That is the return they want. Preferably a puck moving right-handed defenseman, but one that can play 18 minutes a night will suffice.
The problem with this is that any RHD is a coveted player. They are about as rare as the legitimate top line center. It doesn’t mean they can’t be found, it means that teams aren’t really willing to trade them.
Why is a RHD so important? Let’s consider the issues with Del Zotto: He’s been a bit off defensively, he hasn’t been able to clear the zone effectively, and he’s making difficult passes. A lot of this has to do with his decision-making, which has been poor, but a lot has to do with Del Zotto lining up on the right side as a left-handed shot.
Picture for a moment a right-handed shot on the right side in the defensive zone. The forehand faces along the boards, making the safe outlet pass easier. A left-handed shot has a forehand up the middle, forcing safe clearing attempts to go across the body, and thus less accurate. While this is not the cause of Del Zotto’s problems, it is certainly a contributing factor for the 23-year old defenseman.
If a RHD becomes available, it wouldn’t surprise anyone here if Del Zotto is sent the other way, but it has to be a RHD that is comparable to Del Zotto. A guy that can play big minutes, can move the puck, and is either before his prime or entering his prime.
Note: Prime age for a defenseman is about 26-30, which is why this team isn’t going to just give him away.
RHD is a hole that the Rangers will likely be looking to fill all season. It’s a team need that will make them a stronger and more balanced team for a deep playoff run. As a young defenseman on an affordable contract, Del Zotto is one of their most tradeable assets to try to fill this hole. You have to give to get, and Del Zotto does have more trade value than most give him credit for. On any team other than the Rangers –who are stacked with top-six defensemen– Del Zotto is a wonderful piece to have. He won’t be traded unless it fills a specific need for a Cup run.