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Dan Girardi’s uncertain future could hold up a Michael Del Zotto trade

November 27, 2013, by

Dan Girardi’s struggles may extend Michael Del Zotto’s tenure in blue

Despite all the recent trade rumors swirling around Michael Del Zotto, the young D-man may remain a Ranger beyond this year.

I’ll spare you the argument that Del Zotto is still very young for a defenseman at just 23 years old, because frankly I don’t buy that as an excuse for his erratic play any more either.  But though Del Zotto hasn’t lived up to expectations, he is still pencilled in as a top-four defenseman in New York’s short- and long-term plans.

That matters because another key member of the top-four, Dan Girardi, is set to be an unrestricted free agent in July.  And the way things are going, Girardi might not be back.  Girardi has been better than Del Zotto this season, but not by much.  He’s coming off a down year under John Tortorella, so Girardi’s struggles can’t be blamed solely on the coaching change.  No, at 29 years old, it’s likely that we’ve already seen the best of Girardi, and quite possible that he’s begun his decline.

Girardi will likely expect a substantial raise from his $3.325 million cap hit based on his past performance, so the Rangers may be best served by letting him walk.  Money doesn’t have to be the deciding factor – the Rangers have only nine players under contract for next year (including the likely to be bought out Brad Richards) and the salary cap will likely increase, so New York can certainly afford to keep Girardi, it just might not be the wisest use of the team’s money.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many other pending free agents that could reasonably be expected to take Girardi’s minutes as well as man the right side.  Girardi and another pending UFA, Anton Stralman, are the only righties currently on New York’s roster, a concern because the lack of righties has already been a major issue in recent years.  Dion Phaneuf, Dan Boyle and Andrei Markov all hold some appeal – especially given their offensive prowess – but both Boyle and Markov will be dreaded 35+ contracts, and Phaneuf will fetch a huge pact on the open market.  Of that group, only Boyle is a righty.

Which leads us back to Del Zotto.  Expecting him to replace Girardi would be foolish, but Del Zotto is still very affordable, has untapped potential, and has recent experience playing the right side.  Assuming McDonagh and Staal are the top pairing next year, the Rangers would need some combination of Del Zotto, Stralman and John Moore to be the second pairing.  Dylan McIlrath (a righty!) and Conor Allen might be ready for Broadway in 2014, but either would surely be eased into light minutes on the third pairing.

If GM Glen Sather is convinced he wants to keep Girardi, then trading Del Zotto isn’t such a big deal.  But there’s likely some question about that, in which case trading Del Zotto could leave a gaping hole on the roster.  Having to find two top-four replacements in one offseason would be a very difficult task, especially with a weak free agent class.  So the only real way trading Del Zotto could make sense is if the Blueshirts got another defender back.  There hasn’t been a deal because few teams that would want Del Zotto are in position to give up a competent blueliner.  So as maddening as Del Zotto can be, he might not be going anywhere.


  1. Easyguy says:

    Uncertain future lol I highly doubt that sathers going to trade girardi and I find it hard to believe girardi doesn’t get resigned he’s along with mcdonagh and staal one of the best defenders in the league. He’s a shutdown wizard and we won’t win anything without him. I don’t think you guys understand how hard defenders like girardi are to come by. And believe me delzotto has nothing to do with girardi two completely different class players for delzottos terrible. To even say girardi would hold up delzotto move is laughable. Delzotto is TERRIBLE which is why sens offered there garbage for him

  2. Easyguy says:

    Wow do you overrate delzotto tremendously. This whole article is laughable

    • Dave says:

      Yea, you’re done here.

      You’ve posted under 3 different names and all your comments have been derogatory in nature.

      We have grown up discussions here. If you disagree say so in a mature manner.

  3. Easyguy says:

    He’s penciled in as a six seventh d man as stralmans top four and Moore is kicking at the top four door both players are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better then delzotto in al areas of the game. Delzotto can’t skate can’t pass can’t shoot can’t play d and turns the puck over more then anyone in the league. Penciled in as a top four hahaha he plays 6 mins a. Game

  4. Mikeyyy says:

    Who let the trolls out?

  5. WilliamW says:

    Hypothetical GM question

    Would you rather keep Richards at his current contract or pay Girardi $5 million for the next 5 year, because that is likely what he will ask for on the open market

    Crazy as it is, I lean towards keeping Richards

    • Kevin says:

      Can I say neither? I guess I’d go Girardi…

    • Dave says:

      Ugh, that’s not a fun proposition.

      I’d say Girardi. RHD are tough to come by and he will be 35 when that deal is over, not 40.

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    Richards is a buyout.

    G might not be back, as well as Stralman

    Mdz is getting interest from all gms.

    But I think staal is going to Carolina in a package deal.

    The espn article about the staal brothers is compelling for me, and I bet even more so for marc.

    My prediction is staal is a hurricane before the end of the year.

    • WilliamW says:

      I wouldn’t bet on a Richards buyout being a sure thng. Likely maybe, but far from certain given his play and TV announcements like yesterday

      Staal goes to Carolina only if Faulk (the good one) comes back. Which isn’t happening. The Rangers lack D depth so it’s hard to believe they trade a top 50 Dman for a package without a top D

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      IF IF IF Staal goes to Car….and at this point who knows…. it won’t be done until next year. The team will be gearing to make a run this year. Staal is our #2 D man. We won’t just trade him so he can be with his brothers. The contract situation will drastically change our complexion next year. No guarantees that Lundy, Richards, Girardi, Boyle, etc are back.

      Staal very well may go to Carolina, but it won’t be this year. Personally, I’d bet against it, but if it does happen it’ll be off season or next year.

      • Dave says:

        I’m just going to entertain this for a little bit: The conversation begins with Jeff Skinner. Since that’s a no-go for Carolina, it’s not happening.

        • Kevin says:

          Actually think Skinner might be had due to all his concussion issues already. Carolina might be in a position where they’re concerned enough about his future that they bite if the offer is reasonable

  7. AD says:

    Certainly having 2 right-handed UFA defenseman complicates the future path Rangers management takes wih Del Zotto. However, to suggest Del Zotto can replace Girardi is, frankly, ludicrous. He barely justifies 3rd line minutes at the rpesent time, let alone 2nd line minutes; and, unlike Moore, Del Zotto has not demonstrated much capacity to play his off-side , which will be several factors more challenging when trying to do so on the 2nd pairing.

    Girardi will be resigned, in my view, along with Stralman. The Rangers know all too well how difficult it is to obtain a right-handed defenseman — Sather is not about to let both existing players “walk.” Worst-case, if there is no indication the players wish to resign, then trades will be made to fill their roles.

    Finally, the issues with Girardi and Stralman are contract-related; their contracts are due and they need to be resigned. Del Zotto’s issue is performance-related AND contract-related. At his current pace, the Rangers are most likely unwilling to pay what he would likely be awarded as an RFA with arbitration rights. The market price is simply higher than where he is performing right now.

    Del Zotto has been marginalized by the offensive development of McDonagh and acquisition of Moore, making him #6 oh the defensive depth chart — he is the odd man out in this equation and will most likely be traded, in my view.

    • KC says:

      “Del Zotto’s issue is performance-related AND contract-related. At his current pace, the Rangers are most likely unwilling to pay what he would likely be awarded as an RFA with arbitration rights. The market price is simply higher than where he is performing right now.”

      Thank you… finally someone pointed that out… all I keep hearing is that MDZ is “affordable”… and I couldn’t believe nobody else thought that this kid would really agree to a low $… Maybe it’s just me… but I see MDZ as another hold out/ demanding arbitration BC he wants every penny that he’s not worth… I have only seen one person miss the net more times from prime scoring spots and his name was Scott Gomez… You can teach positioning, you can teach skating, hitting, blocking shots… but as far as improving his shooting accuracy… If he doesn’t have it by now, short of putting him in front of a soccer net… he’s not scoring.

      Sorry just had to get that off my chest… as far as the rest of the article, I’m still unsure on how I feel about Girardi’s so called decline, and Staal to CAR talk, but I would love to keep Stralman…

      • Walt says:


        Agree with your post. I posted on many occasions that he would hold out like before, so if there is a trade, that will be the reason for it!!

        My remarks in the past on this subject were poo pooed, but I believe you, and I are right!!

        • Spozo says:

          Walt. MDZ never held out

          • Walt says:

            What was it that he did to piss off Slats? MDZ has too high of an opinion, and self worth of himself, and will demand wayyyyyyyyy tooooooo much money that he is worth! If it wasn’t a hold out, what was it?????

            • Spozo says:


              He never held out of anything. They didn’t reach an agreement on a contract and then the lockout happened. There was no CBA so they literally were not able to negotiate. Then within days of the lock ending he signed. He signed before camp and still practiced with the team before it was finalized.

              So please tell me exactly what he held out on.

            • Spozo says:

              I posted a response that has a link in it so it waiting on site approval. In the mean time you should search te internet for anything that says he actually held out

              • Walt says:

                He still pissed off Slats, and for that he will be moved, even if you proved me wrong! MDZ has worn out his welcome!

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I like the analysis. Can’t really disagree with you. Where do you put Girardi and Stralman’s respective cap hits?

      Girardi- 3.25 now -> 4mil 4 yrs?
      Stralman- 1.7 now -> 2.5 mil 2 yrs?

      McD is at 4.7 mil. Staal is at 3.975 mil. Ideally, given Girardi’s declining game, he shouldn’t eclipse Staal’s salary so I would like to see him at or below 3.75 mil.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        Stralman looks right, he might get $3m, but close enough.

        Girardi will get near $5m. Here’s why:

        On his last deal he gave up 2 UFA years, and signed for ~5.5% of the cap. Accounting that RFA years generally come at a 40% discount, if he had signed a 4 year deal as a UFA his value would’ve been closer to $4.1m, or ~7.25% of the cap then. (all numbers are off the top of my head, I did the exact math the other day but don’t remember the decimals to the hundredth)

        Anyhoo…assuming that same cap% and term length, and a cap value of $70m, you get a UFA value of $5.075m as a starting point.

        Incidentally, that highlights the general problem with comparing contracts. You can’t compare their value now to guys who signed 2-3 years ago, cap numbers have changed.

    • Dave says:

      Del Zotto’s QO would match his current salary ($2.9m).

      • Kevin says:

        Which is’t great, but isn’t horrible. With how he’s played and the way the #s look, not like he can really expect much more. Still $2 million cheaper than G will likely get.

  8. Melissa says:

    This all makes sense minus one part – you kind of contradict yourself. You say Girardi being a right D is a big deal, yet you place Staal and McDonagh as a pair (both left D) and say Del Zotto can play right D even though he’s really a left D (and I believe he’s better on that side too but I could be wrong on that).

    You’re also assuming Stralman is staying which there is as much guarantee on as Girardi staying. (Personally I think Girardi has better chance of staying than Stralman but that might be a biased opinion so I’m willing to make it equal.)

    Basically what I see in this is the Rangers defense could be an absolute mess next season no matter what happens in the next few months so thanks for pointing that out…

    • Kevin says:

      You’re very right about Staal and McDonagh, but I think the point is that the team’s hand would be forced without Girardi – those guys would have to be the top 2, so one will have to adapt. Obviously not ideal, there just aren’t really other options.

      I think Stralman has a much better chance of staying because A) He’s playing better B) He’s probably at least $2 million cheaper a year

      • Melissa says:

        Oh I agree they would be the pairing but you made it seem as if they would need to keep Del Zotto because he could play the right side. Maybe I misunderstood.

        That makes sense and can’t argue either point. I’ve just always had this feeling Girardi wants to stay so would do what necessary to make it happen. The funny thing is I feel the opposite on Callahan so I can’t really explain why I expect Girardi to still be here next year other than I want him to be.

    • Dave says:

      I think the one person that can handle RD minutes as a LD is McDonagh to be honest.

  9. Bloomer says:

    Girardi is a shutdown defenseman with an expiring contract. He would be a hot commodity at the trade deadline for a Stanley Cup contender. I thought last year the Rangers were close to being a contender, but so far the team appears to be regressing.
    The best move right now is no move. Except maybe insert some youth in the lineup to spark up the veterans (AV is not willing to do this). Meanwhile,the team has a long home stand coming up and could put together a string of wins. As the season unfolds and we get closer to the trade deadline, a decision will have to be made whether or not the Rangers are buyers or sellers. Dan Girardi the mainstay fan favourite defenseman will be sought after.

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you for suggesting they wait to the deadline to weigh where they’re at before making such a big decision. So many see the expiring contract, want to get something before the guy walks for no reason, and suggest pulling the trigger on a deal right away. Makes no sense, if the Blueshirts are in the playoff picture, they can’t deal G.

  10. Gary says:

    Good post.

    What about Girardi to Vancouver now for Zack Kassian? Back with his old boss, under whom he excelled. Get some sand paper in here to help out Dorsett.

    It thins out the D for sure. But at least we get something for him before UFA. Besides, right now is our problem D? A team with Pyatt and Pouliot vying for 3rd line wing is probably not in an enviable position.

    That means Falk, or the kid (not McIlrath, can’t remember name) comes up from Hartford, and it means a commitment to DZ.

    I think you play DZ into the ground and pound away as is and hope he gets it.

    • Kevin says:

      Kassian is nowhere near enough value for Girardi, he’s been a colossal disappointment.
      Don’t think it makes any sense to trade G yet, this team still views itself as a contender, and it’s way too early to give up on the season.

      • Bloomer says:

        I agree the Rangers have the potential to be a much better team (maybe even a contender), but as a fan I find it discouraging when they get manhandled by the Anaheim, San Jose and Tampas of the world.
        December will be a month where we could see the real potential of this squad as they turn to home. They have many players on the roster that haven’t yet hit their prime and they may still surprize.
        I hope Sather doesn’t hit the panic button and pull off a Neil Smith.

  11. Rangers Rock says:

    Everybody’s talking bad about Del Zotto, but what are the stats? Why is Staal a -6, MCDONAGH -3, JOHN MOORE -3, DAN GIRARDI -6,
    I rather trade the coach than Del Zotto.

  12. Gary says:

    Good write up thanks

  13. Frank Cerbone says:

    Kevin, I know +/- means nothing, ICorsi means nothing, turnovers mean nothing, playing on his wrong side mean nothing when it comes to MDZ. Any stat than show MDZ better than other Ranger defensemen IGNORE. A lot of teams want MDZ and all will put him back on left defense.

    FYI last time MDZ was paired with Stralman, MDZ was a +20. MDZ was moved over to the right side because Staal COULD NOT FUNCTION ON ANY LEVEL WITHOUT STRALMAN or GIRARDI.

    • Mark says:

      So agree with this. The MDZ talk is totally one-sided while Staal can do no wrong. Look we all know that MDZ has talent but needs to improve quite a bit. And we know that Girardi has not played well either… But Staal does very little (he does not even hit much any more), and his attempts at getting out of his own zone that used to work 3 years ago are not working. So why does he get a pass? Because he has been injured quite a bit? His game against Boston was not good , yet we do not hear much. I am not anti Staal, and hope he does well but it seems that he is a bit teflon (and the MSG broadcasters continue to extoll only the positive about him)..and of course the positives about the MSG bridge etc.

  14. flatbush says:

    Don’t think we should let Girardi go. Too many want him. Albeit that G, and Staal have not been consistent any team would take em. Mac and those two are the D’s. Moore has the tools and potential much like a DZ. We’re tired of waiting for DZ to fix his D game- just gets caught too much. Was not a great fan of Stralman but he has done a very good job. All this trade talk- D’s are the hardest to come by so what are we gonna get or improve on the back end. Better start developing the farm if you let D guys go away.