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Posts tagged: Michael Del Zotto

Free agency is still months away, but the Rangers will have some tough decisions to make

Ryan Callahan’s injury woes are concerning, but New York will still likely do everything it can to keep its captain

Quick note: Dave was at the game last night, so the goal breakdown will be done for the afternoon post.

The Rangers’ season is quickly spiraling out of control and it’s probably a matter of time before GM Glen Sather steps in and makes a major shakeup.  But with so many pending free agents and so many players underperforming, it’s a certainty that the 2014-2015 version of the Blueshirts will look drastically different than the edition that stunk up the joint last night against Nashville.  So let’s take a look at New York’s upcoming free agents and see who might still be around next year, and who could be gone.

Ryan Callahan - Yet another injury has clouded this situation.  A few months ago it would have been unthinkable to imagine life without Callahan, but his health is becoming increasingly concerning.  New York’s doctors will have to evaluate Callahan’s physical condition, but assuming he’s in one piece, I still expect the Rangers to do everything they can to lock up their captain long-term.  Some of the beat writers think Callahan would be very tempted to join the Sabres next summer to move closer to home, but though I’m sure Callahan loves Rochester, New York City isn’t all that far away and I can’t imagine Callahan joining a rebuilding team.  If things really fall apart for the Blueshirts and there’s not much progress in negotiations, I could see Callahan being tempted by a contender.  But it’s still most likely the Rangers will retain their captain, albeit at a very steep price.  Remember, the Rangers paid RFAs Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer over Callahan in 2011 and gave him a lesser deal due to the resulting cap crunch.  No. 24 swallowed that bitter pill then, but it’s unlikely New York will be getting a hometown discount this time around.

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With more physicality needed, it’s time the Rangers tried Dylan McIlrath

Is Dylan McIlrath ready?

Is Dylan McIlrath ready?

Alain Vigneault commented after the Rangers’ turgid performance in Tampa on Monday that “Nobody touched a soul”, referring to his team’s lack of physicality. This has been an underlying issue for large parts of the season so far. In the mean time, Michael Del Zotto continues to be, at best, inconsistent (and the subject of countless traded rumours in the media) and John Moore also has yet to find his game consistently. As you can see, there is plenty of room for improvement on the blueline.

While the Rangers forward unit appears to be more settled with the demotion of JT Miller (who simply needs playing time at this stage), despite the relatively decent performance of the blueline corps, the Rangers appear in need of an injection of physicality. Is it about time they took a look at Dylan McIlrath?

Mcllrath’s development curve is trending in the right direction. While in Hartford the big, bruising 1st round pick has begun to add an offensive dimension to his game but perhaps more appropriate is that he also leagues the American Hockey League in penalty minutes (with 102 penalty minutes in just 18 games) and if you check the box scores regularly enough, you’ll have noticed a few majors along the way.

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Obligatory Del Zotto rumor updates

The more the season progresses, the more the Michael Del Zotto trade rumors swirl. Darren Dreger noted yesterday that the Rangers spoke to Ottawa and that no match could be found. The Rangers wanted either Marc Methot or Chris Neil, and Ottawa countered with Colin Greening, Eric Gryba, or Erik Condra. Those players did not fit with the Rangers. We all know what Chris Neil is, but Methot is a hard hitting defenseman that the Rangers could use. Problem is two-fold: He’s not the swiftest of skaters and he’s a left handed shot.

Dreger also noted this morning (on the radio) that the Rangers were talking to the Leafs as well. Jake Gardiner was the name tossed out by Toronto. In a vacuum a deal like that makes sense, since both might benefit from a change of scenery and Gardiner was teammates in Wisconsin with Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. But again, Gardiner is a left handed shot.

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

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. Read more »

Thoughts following last night’s win in Dallas

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

I know you just had the musings yesterday, but I have a bunch of thoughts I want to share that aren’t worth a full post.  Deal with it.  Here’s some thoughts following the Rangers 3-2 win in Dallas last night…

  • Is there really anywhere to start but with Hank?  The King was absolutely out of his mind last night.  Watching the game, there were several times I found myself gasping at his awesomeness.  Dare I say he out Tuukka’d Tuukka’s performance from the other night.  Hank’s positioning was spot on, he tracked the puck exceedingly well, and he hung with very tough second and third chances.  He was an absolute wall.
  • Man, it’s nice to have Rick Nash back.  I absolutely love watching the guy play.  His size, speed, and fluidity are all sorely missed when he’s out of the lineup.  He has this way of just mesmerizing opposing D-men as he nonchalantly glides into the zone.  I can totally understand why sometimes his teammates just stand around and watch him. Read more »

Musings: Girardi’s struggles, scoring woes, trade targets

Photo: McIsaac/Getty

Photo: McIsaac/Getty

It’s been a while since I’ve written the musings, so I’m taking the opportunity to do that today. Have to admit, they are some of my favorite posts to write.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve noticed that I’ve been pretty hard on Dan Girardi lately. He’s certainly had a lot of trouble adjusting this season. It is probably just a bad year for the defenseman, or at least a bad quarter season. These things happen, but there were signs this could happen before. One of the big thing is that Girardi constantly leaves his feet to play defense, instead of taking the angle and using his body to create better positioning. That’s something that needs to be fixed. He hasn’t lost a step, but the best forwards –forwards he plays against night in and night out– have caught on to this.

Girardi isn’t the only one who is struggling either. Michael Del Zotto is struggling. John Moore has had issues. Justin Falk is showing why he came a bit on the cheaper end on the trade market. If not for Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, and Ryan McDonagh, this team would have a lot of questions on the blue line.

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Why the Rangers should consider moving Michael Del Zotto

Del Zotto has fallen on hard times in New York

Del Zotto has fallen on hard times in New York

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.

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

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.

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Musings: Are the Rangers prospects underrated?

Quietly having a strong season: Brian Boyle

Quietly having a strong season: Brian Boyle

A strong, prolonged period of results was slightly tarnished with the sloppy, unnecessary loss to the Devils earlier this week. Sloppy goals, defensive lapses and a lack of finish had many reminding us of the early season edition of the Rangers. With games against the Canadiens and Kings on the weekend it’s a big couple of days for the Rangers. On to the musings

Generally speaking, the Rangers have played well in recent games and this has highlighted the contributions from the youth on the roster such as Chris Kreider. With the Wolf Packing doing pretty well too, it makes the Rangers prospect ranking of 27th on Hockey’s Future (if you buy into that kind of thing) pretty farcical.

Danny Kristo, JT Miller, Jesper Fast, Kreider (still not classed as ‘graduated’), Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg and ‘Boo’ Nieves highlight a pretty talented pool if you ask me. There’s a ton of NHL upside in the Rangers system and the best part is none of it needs to be rushed. The only area of real concern (in my humble opinion) is in goal.

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The Musings: Do the Rangers have a defensive problem?

MDZ: time to be a difference maker

MDZ: time to be a difference maker

One game does not a season make. That is why the Rangers enter tonight’s game with plenty of reason for optimism. On the flip side, your boys got some making up to do.

I want to see Michael Del Zotto start to impose himself on games more.  He has the talent to be a top pair defenseman and is more talented than a guy like Dan Girardi but does he have the decision making and will to be more consistent? I’ve said it before but this is such a pivotal year for MDZ.

Speaking of Dan Girardi – not many Rangers (your King included) have yet to distinguish themselves this season but Girardi has had a particularly sloppy start. Several turnovers and he’s been caught out of position often. The Rangers need more from Girardi.

Keeping on the defensive theme – when you concede 14 goals in your first three games there are multiple issues to solve but Marc Staal is arguably the only defenseman so far that has been solid at either end of the rink. On paper the Rangers have good depth. On the ice, it hasn’t translated as it should. Is that all down to the new system being implemented?

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