Could Del Zotto’s return to form represent a dilemma?

January 12, 2014, by
If Del Zotto finds form, can the Rangers afford to let him go?

If Del Zotto finds form, can the Rangers afford to let him go?

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.


  1. Walt says:

    If the team is dead set on trading MDZ, then with his improved play, he should get us a better return!!  If they don’t trade him, then his improved play makes us a better team.  In either case, it’s a win-win situation for the Rangers!!

    • paulronty says:

      Totally agree with your take on this. Why everybody is so hot to make a trade is beyond me.

      • @Centerman21 says:

        I don’t see why anyone would be in any rush to trade him. The deadline is a little ways away and he has began to build some confidence in his abilities. The longer the Rangers wait, the closer the deadline gets and the more desperate teams in need of defenseman get. Del Zotto is the most tradable asset the Rangers have.

  2. JerseyRanger says:

    maybe moore is the guy on the block

    • bernmeister says:

      The issue is not who is on the block; these are our guys, relatively known commodities.
      The ? is what is the return. THAT’S what we have to know, and do a serious comparable.
      Then we can intelligently decide whether or not to trade.

  3. Joe719 says:

    I never get the infatuation with John Moore’s game. I haven’t seen him contribute that much since he got here.  I remember during a pre-season game where he made this great rush up the ice; didn’t score, but looked good carrying the puck.  Joe Micheletti  went crazy over the play, and every once in a while they show that clip when talking about Moore.  But I can’t remember too many times when he is a factor out there.   If a trade is made for Moore or MDZ, what’s the story with Ryan OReilly?  I know nothing about him, but I read his name  being associated with a MDZ trade.  Anybody have a scouting report?

    • @Centerman21 says:

      That’s who I wanna see in NY. If they trade DZ, it should be for another young player and O’Reilly fits the bill. He’s a 2 way Center that has played the wing all year with all the centers in Colorado. He’s 23 and his game (IMO) fits what the Rangers do. With Richards likely gone at seasons end, the Rangers will need Centers. Boyle, D Moore, and Brassard’s future unknown to have a young RFA is an investment. O’Reilly can be traded on or after 2/28 due to the offer sheet Calgary signed him to (AV’s matched).

  4. Frank Cerbone says:

    MDZ started every game on his unnatural right side in the beginning of the season, but Rangers were missing Callahan, Hagelin, & Nash & so Rangers were offensively challenged.  Every body on Rangers, basically was a minus player.
    Nash, Callahan, & Hagelin return & MDZ IS BENCHED.  Rangers start scoring with the return of 3 of their top 7 wingers.  Unfortunately, MDZ is on the bench, and cannot benefit by the increase in scoring..
    Recently, However, fans notice that EVERYONE except Kreider & Hagelin are still minus players & MDZ is returned to the lineup on the more natural left side. 
    Guess what?  MDZ on the left side is actually playing well.
    The hyped up pairing of Stralman & Staal, meanwhile are both playing terrible.
    In the offseason, UFA right handed very tough defenseman UFA Derek Engelland and UFA right handed defenseman Tom Gilbert are available. So is RFA right handed defenseman David Savard.
    All three right side defensemen Engelland, Gilbert, & Savard
    would be welcome in NY.
    On offense, tough guy Tanner Glass & Matt Moulson are both UFAs & would be welcome in NY.
    Engelland, Savard or Gilbert , Moulson.
    Stralman, Staal, Richards

    • Mark says:

      if McIlrath does not develop then a d man like Engelland would work. However, the Ranger’s recent coaches have tended to shy away from tough dmen types and he would play maybe 30% of the time. I would take him though and play him. If Staal has good trade value he perhaps should be on the block along with Moore, despite the continuous praise from Joe Micheletti.

      • Walt says:

        Engelland has been on the wing for half the season, with all the injuries the Pens have had.  He can add some versitility, as well as grit!!

  5. Pete says:

    The real problem is his contract, which is up at the end of the year. Does team re-sign him or does he even want to re-sign? It would be tough losing him for nothing.

    • Chris A says:

      Don’t worry Pete, Del Zotto is a restricted free agent after the season.  It is virtually impossible for the Rangers to lose MDZ for nothing this summer.
      The only way that happens is if the Rangers decide not to qualify him by simply making a one year  contract offer at his current salary of $2.9M The ball is 100% in the Rangers’ court on this one

      • @Centerman21 says:

        The new CBA gave the perks to the 27 years and older players and took it from the younger RFA’s.

  6. Frank Cerbone says:

    Read NYPost&NY Daily News-MDZ seems to feel that NY has made him subject to trade rumors for 5 years-NOT EXACTLY TRUE-he’s only 23.
    However, MDZ has upside on defense only to McDonough. On the left side, MDZ is a good offensive defenseman, regardless of what idiot Vigneault has to say.  Physically, MDZ doesn’t hit as often as Girardi, but MDZ REALLY does hit hard & picks no favorites.  Just UTUBe MDZ hitting Neal, Kovalchuk, Rutuu, Neil, Boulton.
    You are never going to see Staal, Stralman, McDonough, Moore hit anyone with the authority MDZ can & will if Vigneault stops messing with his playing time.  And I don’t want to hear about Staal hitting anybody a 3 years ago 
    Staal has been on the decline for 3 years now, much of it due to injuries.  But even way back to Hockey’s Futures- Staal did not project as an offensive defenseman & plays much smaller than his size.  Stralman is just Stralman, journeyman 5 th defenseman type.
    Girardi will hopefully be resigned, as he is very, very valuable.

  7. Bayman says:

    If they deal MDZ, they better get a competent D in return. Look at what happened last spring when a couple of injuries forced us to play a human statue (Hamrlik), whose turnover ended the season.

    • Al says:

      I think we should look at who ( GM’s)Sather likes to make trades with. Also what GM’s are close with Sather.

      • @Centerman21 says:

        I think the GM of the Canadiens will keep trying to get the best of Sather. Maybe he tries this season as the Habs are having trouble scoring.

  8. Frank Cerbone says:

    Went to NHL Website on turnover stats-since Vigneault mentioned a couple of times about MDZs turnovers-when NHL stats seemed to discredit Vigneault’s statements AGAIN-like MDZs lack of physicality.
    According to the NHL, per a 60 min per gm projection here are the projected turnovers per gms for:
    Franzen   3.15
    Carcillo  3.09
    Gardiner 2.4
    Nash 2.15
    McDonough 2.01
    MDZ 1.84
    Stralman 1.83
    Girardi 1.66
    Moore 1.66
    Staal 1.66
    Gilbert 1.45
    Brian Boyle 1.07
    Derek Engelland 0.88
    JT Miller 0.86
    Anisimov  0.7
    Dubinsky 0.65
    Dom Moore  0.52
    Lori Korpikoski 0.41

    • Erixon20 says:

      Girardi’s 1.66 and MacD’s 2.01 are against the other teams’ top lines.  MDZ’s 1.84 is as a 3rd pair Dman.  How do you think his #s would look against better competition?  All the points about MDZ being much, much better on the left are true however, and I do think that’s a bit unfair that he has played so much on the right.  That said, we can get more for him than say John Moore, and Moore is a serviceable 3rd pair L Dman.  So move MDZ (even in a package) for something they need:  a R Dman, some offense (right-handed shot), or toughness.  

      • Frank Cerbone says:

        Sorry Erixon20, your analysis was proven wrong decades ago in the time of Zubov, Leetch, Dale Rolfe, Park
        If you are a 1st pairing defenseman, you are matched against 1st line, offensively inclined, defensively weak players.  There is little in the way of forchecking.
        If you are a 3rd pairing defenseman, you are paired against offensively challenged, defensive, forchecking specialists.
        So  MDZ turnover’s are a function of playing against opponents best forcheckers.  McDonoughs turnovers are a function of  McDonough playing against people who are offensively inclined, but poor forcheckers.  so if McDonough has a high turnover rate…..
        Career  Totals
        Brad Park  +358
        Rod Seiling +187
        Zubov  __+148
        Dale Rolfe +58
        Brian Leetch +25

  9. Lou says:

    Here we go again arguing about MDZ.

    Bottom line – doesnt skate too well. He’s a so-called offensive defenseman that doesnt score. His outlet passes are intended to get rid of the puck so he doesnt get hit. He is no threat to land a big hit. And, get caught way too often looking a the play!

    Player to get is Byfluen….right handed; big; can hit; can skate.

    Now Buff has to be taught to play D…but like Chara, if he can be harnessed, it could turn into a steal ala McD.

    And nobody messes with Buff !

    Here’s the trade….MDZ, Fast and 3 rounder for Buff.

    Slats – dont let Buff end up on another east coast team! Make the trade b4 another team gets him!

    • Fotiu is God says:

      I’m lining with you, Lou. Buff’s got a cannon, size, and plays best in big contests. (Remember how he manhandled and generally humiliated Chris Pronger during Chicago’s first Cup run a couple years back?)
      Nonetheless, I believe Stan Bowman, the Chicago GM, might also be a bidder at deadline, similar to their reacquiring Kris Versteeg, another member of that Cup winning team. 
      Notwithstanding his off-season beer and ski boat exploits, he’d give The Blueshirts some color.

    • Frank Cerbone says:

      So Buff is 5 yrs older than MDZ and he can learn to play defense & MDZ can’t.  Unfortunatly, MDZ has had a number of + years, so MDZ is/can be a plus player.  This year MDZ started with 3 of the Ranger top 6 forwards out of the lineup.  When they returned, MDZ and his minus 9 was benched.  When Vigneault came out from under the ether, MDZ was returned to the lineup about a week ago and is now a minus 4.  MDZ will again return to being a plus player in a couple of weeks, more than I can say for most of the Ranger team that has struggled with Vigneault’s man to man vs zone defense.
      Buff is indeed large, pretty tough, productive, but a defensive nightmare.
      There are highlight videos all over UTUbe of MDZ leveling Chris Neal, James Neal, Rutuu, Kovalchuck, etc.  MDZ is just not a fighter and now that Vigneault has installed a man to man defense philosophy, almost every Ranger is a minus player and Lundquist stat sheet is affected dramatically.