Last week, I discussed why I wouldn’t trade for Rick Nash. Today I am going to take the opposite approach and explain why I wouldn’t trade Michael Del Zotto.
Del Zotto is probably the one of two players on the current roster that separate fans the most– fans either love him or hate him (Dubinsky being the other). For three years he has patrolled the Rangers blueline with varying levels of success. Case in point:
- Year One: good offense, no defense
- Year Two: no offensive, no defense
- Year Three: good offense, good defense
I have no idea what to expect from him next season but at the moment he looks to be going in the right direction. The kid will only be twenty-two at the start of the season and already has three years under his belt. He’s actually THE YOUNGEST guy on the team even though we had at least five guys start as rookies after he did. (I am not counting Chris Kreider in this as he has yet to play a regular season game.)
He’s also our best offensive defenseman at the moment. Yes we could trade or sign someone else to fill that role but why give up on a kid who could give us TWO offensive defensemen down the line? Pretty sure the more a team has of those type of players, the better. Maybe it’s just me.
And why do I think he will grow into this role? For one, defensemen take the longest to mature into the player they end up being. Look at Dan Girardi. Most fans consider him a kid on the team. He’s 28. Marc Staal has yet to hit his prime and he’s 25. In case you missed it earlier, Del Zotto isn’t even 22 yet!
Secondly, he now has a mentor. Brad Richards was brought in for many reasons – help the power play, help on face-offs, veteran presence Torts was familiar with, etc. He was also brought in to help the young guys. I guarantee the first thing Torts told him to do when he signed was to contact Michael Del Zotto and check up on the kid. It worked as Del Zotto mentioned a number of times throughout the season that Richards helped him through the ups and downs. He mentioned how the two go to dinner at least once a week and I believe (although haven’t even attempted to confirm as I’m not a stalker) that they live near each other in the city. Del Zotto was a young kid with a little too much “swagger” when he first came to the Rangers. Richards has helped him mature to a level that even fans can see a difference (I know I can). He will continue to mature more the more he works with Richards.
My final reason has to do with the team more than Del Zotto. Many fans say we don’t need him if we sign say Ryan Suter, Shea Weber or college standout Justin Schultz. With ONE of those guys, the Rangers would have a total of four defensemen to start next season. Just four – Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and whichever of those players the team signed. Last I checked a team usually plays with six a night. Many of these fans are including Michael Sauer (who the team has said they can’t guarantee will be ready to start the season and I don’t believe will, even if the season started in January), Tim Erixon (who no one who’s actually watched him is sure is ready for the NHL) or Anton Stralman (who basically said he was going back to Sweden next year on exit day). McIlrath isn’t ready so anyone who includes him is completely delusional. Where exactly are we getting two more defensemen who Torts trusts (a major issue since he didn’t really trust Stalman, Bickel or Woywitka last year) to play the 5 and 6 roles? And heaven forbid we have another injury to start the season like last year and need THREE more defensemen. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I understand Del Zotto is far from perfect. He makes mistakes and there are nights I want him off the ice as much as other fans do. But he had more good nights than bad this year and giving up on him just sounds like a mistake to me. Torts definitely gets frustrated with him but in my opinion, any screaming is more tough love. I really believe (my opinion, nothing to substantiate it) that Torts has taken Del Zotto under his wing as his little project, similar to what he did with Richards and Vincent Lecavalier. I just can’t see him ready to give up on the kid no matter who will be coming in. I wish Rangers fans would feel the same way.
Editors Note: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. BlueShirts United has some great features on the Rangers who are dads and the young guys discussing their dads. Check it out if you haven’t.