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The Michael Del Zotto rumors and the search for a right handed defenseman

November 16, 2013, by
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

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.

Categories : Defense


  1. Bob says:

    I think people make too big a deal over MDZ. He’s not as bad as everyone thinks. All of his fancy stats are positive I believe.

  2. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    He was having similar defensive issues on his strong hand. Moving to his offside should have increased the quality of his breakout since his passing angels are better. But now he can do neither.

  3. The Suit says:

    When McIlrath or Allen or any other Whale is ready to step up, that will likely be the end of Del Zotto.

  4. Pete says:

    Problem is his confidence, how can it be anything else? He was playing relatively well when he was logging 20 minutes and play 2nd pair not too long ago. He has the ability/skill and I think most forget that he is still pretty young at 23. He seems like he’s one of those “change of scenery” guys, NYC isn’t any easy place and he might just be gripping the stick a little too hard. Having said that, it does feel like his time on Bway is coming to a close, you’re def right in saying that some people under-value him.

    Seeing as how the top-9, with Nash, is pretty much set (well except for Pouliot), what does the team want/need in return? Some size would be nice, possibly a 3rd/4th line banger and a vet stay-at-home D-man (right handed) who can compliment Moore on the 3rd pair?

    • WilliamW says:

      A 3rd line winger and a RHD would be the likely targets. Ideally placeholders until Miller/McIlrath are ready

      • Pete says:

        I’d really like to see Miller sent down asap, I hate to see him keeping the bench company for 55 out of 60 minutes, counter-productive IMO.

  5. Brendan says:

    has anyone else noticed how bad he is at letting pucks get out of the offensive zone? not just this year, but the past few seasons I can’t help but notice every time he does this.

    • Pete says:

      I think everyone is too busy noticing everything else he’s doing wrong… But yes, it has been noticed and its annoying.

      • The Suit says:

        That’s the problem with playing the right side of the ice when you’re a lefty.

  6. Chris A says:

    Please look at Anton Stralman. Stralman is 27 and bounced around the league before developing into a solid top 4 D.

    Dmen take years to develop, it seems the Rangers messed up by rushing MDZ to the NHL at 19, but the talent is there. The kid is still only 23. Stralman had a fraction of the pedigree that MDZ has and MDZ has barely scratched the surface of his talents.

    The Rangers should only entertain the idea of dealing MDZ if the other team is willing to overpay for him.

  7. Mikeyyy says:

    People develop stagnate and regress. It’s life.

    We have enough depth. Trade the guy. No doubts if it makes the team better.

  8. dapowl says:

    Is Moore so much better than MDZ?- what about sitting him and giving MDZ another Chance on the left side –

    I know how bad DZ can be on defense but we have seen flashes of brilliance by him.
    Problem is that we have to many Left D… and who our top 2 left D is should be clear.

    Also Moore’s sample size is not that big – CBJ had a reason for trading him. Haven’t noticed him the past games that much. He has a nice shot and superb skating ability but does not show it as much as earlier this season.

  9. Walt says:

    Let’s face it folks, if MDZ does get traded it will be for a number of reasons. Need for R-dman, agree. Poor decision making, agree. He pissed off Slats during the last go round with his current contract, agree.

    How about his off ice distractions? Why did the team send him down his second year, to learn to play, and to grow up some.

    Hay, I was a kid once, and as a young man, with a pocket full of change($$$$$$$$$$$), in NYC, there are tooooo many distractions. No one even mentioned this, but I wouldn’t be suprised if he is having issues off ice, causing his game to go down hill quickly. Look, as a 23 year old, his game should be starting to peak, it appears that his is in decline?????????????

  10. Easyguy says:

    Doesn’t matter lefty righty doesn’t make a difference at all. Rangers should package delzaster up with miller and pouliot for ott and moulson

  11. Marc Weissman says:

    Excellent job explaining why a RHD is better than a LHD for the right side. Well done! 🙂

  12. MarkO82PEI says:

    Ryan Ellis, that is all.

  13. mdz123 says:

    Stop looking for a single player to blame folks.

    The Rangers are one of the best defensive teams and have had good d as of late . They need to score one more goal per game to be elite .

    MDZ is not the problem the offense has to come from up front and will in time under AV . Stop crying about Del zotto year after year ……