For anyone that watches NHL Tonight, this week you’ll have seen Darren Dreger discuss the Rangers apparently having had contact with ‘five or six teams’ interested in acquiring Michael Del Zotto. The moment Del Zotto’s regression offensively caught up with Alain Vigneault’s lack of trust in his defensive game, this kind of rumour always surfaces. For those of you not in the know regarding Dreger, he’s not the kind of guy who recklessly gossips so there are legs to this story.
The Rangers should definitely explore trading Del Zotto. The Rangers need help offensively and/or they need more physicality on the blue line. Trading Del Zotto could help the Rangers tend to one of their needs as despite Del Zotto not having a good season so far, his previous offensive production, his relative youth, his affordable contract situation and his draft pedigree all combine to make him a very moveable asset.
Whether the Rangers decide to move Del Zotto will likely depend on the return, but if they are to move Del Zotto the time is now. The modern day NHL requires asset management and right now Del Zotto is a declining asset. With his recent trips to the press box and with just four points on the season, Del Zotto appears to be regressing. His importance to the Rangers has also diminished as John Moore slowly but steadily develops. Include Ryan McDonagh’s offensive progression, and he could become a Norris-worthy defensman. In short, Del Zotto’s time in New York could be running out.
With his contract up for renewal and without significant ice time, Del Zotto himself would possibly welcome a change. Given the possible mutual desire for change, the Rangers may not want to keep the player beyond this year. Given his current performance levels and expiring contract, the Rangers should strike quickly if they intend to at all.
Del Zotto is still a very talented player, a skilled defenseman who has proven he can generate offense at the NHL level. He is still young with legitimate upside, so it would be foolish of the Rangers to move him for the sake of change. But if the Rangers feel he no longer has a long term future in NYC and they can get quality in return (whether it be draft picks, prospects or NHL bodies), they should consider it.
Despite his flaws, Glen Sather’s strengths include his ability to outfox countless general managers at the trade table. Ryan McDonagh’s role as a key Ranger is exhibit A to that effect. Could Del Zotto net a similar return? If Scott Gomez can net a player such as McDonagh don’t rule anything out.