Could Del Zotto’s return to form represent a dilemma?January 12, 2014, by
With Michael Del Zotto back in the line-up consistently and finally cobbling together some consistent form the likely trade suitors will increase as Del Zotto starts to rack up the assists (3 in his last 4 games). Of course, with Del Zotto improving in recent weeks (as has most of the roster) the Rangers stand to benefit. Here’s the dilemma: if Del Zotto is playing well, it might make him more attractive to other teams but all of a sudden the Rangers can’t afford to deal him.
In theory, Del Zotto should thrive in Alain Vigneault’s system. It’s been his decision making that has let him down. Vigneault encourages defenseman to step up into the play, play aggressively and try and keep plays alive in the offensive zone. All those theories fit with Del Zotto’s skill set. When Del Zotto is playing well he is still a unique player on this roster.
With John Moore’s game stuck in neutral – the young former Blue Jacket hasn’t developed much, if at all, this year – Del Zotto is the most naturally offensive player on the back end for a team that needs more offense from its blueline. Stralman has been relatively poor, Girardi cannot be relied upon for offense and Marc Staal is still easing his way back. A lot could rest on Del Zotto’s return to form.
As with many scenarios that play out in the coming months perhaps Del Zotto’s future may tie in with Marc Staal’s renaissance. Aside from Ryan McDonagh, if you remove Del Zotto from the line-up, Staal is the most important blueliner the Rangers have (in terms of offensive potential) so if Staal can continue to make progress then yes, all of a sudden Del Zotto and his expiring contract becomes a moveable asset. The problem is there are a lot of ifs and buts to this scenario.
Del Zotto has clearly underperformed for the majority of the season and his career with the Rangers has always been very much up and down but if he does manage to continue his recent revival then he’ll likely save his Rangers career rather expedite the end. Should the onus be on Vigneault and Ulf Samuelsson to get more out of their inconsistent yet talented defenseman? Perhaps Del Zotto represents the biggest coaching challenge for Vigneault since his arrival in New York. The Rangers need offense from the blueline and sometimes its better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.