There's easily not a more polarizing player on the Rangers than Michael Del Zotto. You're either an apologist or you hate him. It seems like there's no inbetween. And it's easy to see why as he contains all the physical tools you'd want from a prototypical offensive defenseman, but unfortunately he will drive you insane with his numerous mental gaffes.
And because his offensive numbers have not masked his defensive deficiencies, Del Zotto has been on the trading block virtually all season. When Alain Vigeanult made him a healthy scratch for the ninth time this season against the Penguins on January 3rd, I didn't think we'd ever see him back on the ice in a Rangers uniform.
But that's all changed the last five games. Apparently, the left-handed Del Zotto recently met with Vigneault to inform him that he was not comfortable playing on the right side. So in an effort to jump start his embattled defenseman, Vigneault paired him on the left side with fellow under-achieving defenseman John Moore for the Jan. 4th game in Toronto and it's had a positive effect.
Since that modification to the lineup, Del Zotto has three assists, is a +5, has seven hits and eight blocked shots and is even receiving some praise from the coach who has seemed reluctant to do so this season (via New York Post)...
“He’s played all right,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s going back harder for pucks, he’s taking the check to make the play. Defensively, there are still some areas there he needs to work on.”
...hey, that's not exactly a Norris Trophy endorsement, but compared to what Vigneault was saying about Del Zotto earlier this season those are some pretty hefty accolades.
So now the question is, why the hell didn't Del Zotto say something sooner or Vigneault try him on the left side on his own? Here's AV on why he had Del Zotto on his weak side (via Bergen Record)...
"That’s fine but then, if there are decisions to be made and you’re not comfortable and you’re not as versatile, sometimes you can be the odd man out," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I wasn’t trying to get him more versatile. I thought with his skill set he could do it and he just feels a lot better on the left side."
...i'm still not convinced that this mini-streak will save Del Zotto from being moved at the trade deadline, but I do think, despite AV's quote, that Del Zotto has solidified a spot on blueline for the time being. With the Carcillo acquisition, Falk's toughness has been minimized, and it didn't seem as though AV was confident in either Allen or McIlrath. So there's really no other competition for that sixth spot right now.
...while Del Zotto's renaissance has helped bolster the blueline (along with the return of Staal), I'm going to need to see this kind of effort in a larger sample before I'm ready to change my opinion of him. I'll absolutely give him credit for stiffening up defensively, but he's on this team to provide offense from the backend, so he's got a long way to go before proving to me he's turned a corner. One goal in the last 25 games just isn't cutting it.
...one thing I have been impressed with is Del Zotto's snarl the last few games. I've always felt he plays much better when he's involved physically. I don't know if it engages him more in the play, but when he's throwing body checks like the one Friday night against Dallas he's usually on his game.
If his value is improving trade his ass for some offensive talen. Maybe MDZ for O'Reilly is possible with another minor piece of a prospect.
I can remember the exact time I started to think DelZotto didn't have the right make up to be a top NHL player, and that was watching HBO's 24/7, in the segment when he crashed into the boards. (the incident when he was moaning, and asking if he was bleeding - then the next day getting physio and talking about how he was feeling like an old man) I'm sure he wasn't feeling good, and sure, get treatment, but it was as if he wanted the whole world to know how hurt he was. You don't see someone like Cally doing stuff like that and Cally is always legitimately hurt.
he's played the right side often in the past few years, so i don't know where this is coming from, but whatever you say kid, just play some better hockey already.
He makes great tape to tape passes. He cleaned up his risky pinching for the past few games.....keep him.
If anything quiet possibly his trade value went up just a tad...... it's been long over due to dump the under achieving Del Zero....package him with someone or something else and let's turn the page.... Trade him straight up for McGratton.... We are not getting a top 4 dman back let's stop the fantasy and illusions...the whole thing was mishandled once again and we devalued him and his play made it worst
As I've said the last couple seasons, when he plays with an edge he's not bad. Not rocket science. When you're engaged you're not thinking. He just has toget over his adversity to getting hit. It's the NHL. It takes a lot to succeed here. Stop worrying about getting hit and those offensive skills will start emerging
ugh. He's a sub-par player with absolutely no hockey sense who routinely makes poor decisions that put his teammates in compromising situations. And, because he's been allowed to hang around long enough to prove what a liability he is, he has zero trade value.
First Carcillo praise, now Del Zotto? What's going on? Win a couple of games and everybody's a superhero. Although, on a serious note, Del Zotto is much better recently. I agree with the physicality improving his game. The more hitting Del Zotto does, the less time he spends thinking. And the less thinking Del Zotto does, the better he plays. I know it's not really an accepted method, but if the team doctors could just lobotomize Del Zotto it might really improve his career.
Ugh, how does Del Zotto have 9 lives? He BLOWS. I'm hoping this is just showcasing to some team that he might be serviceable enough from the left side to play in the NHL....you know, if you squint really hard and lower your standards a whole bunch.
Lol...love the improvement, but let's remember that we are CLEARLY grading on the curve. "Hmmm...you know it just occurred to me that I haven't been pulling out my own hair and then shaking my fists in rage while screaming "DelZotto!!!" like the dude in the Audi commercials as often as I used to. He must be improving." Let's keep it in the park people. ;)
Falk wasn't that tough, I mean did you see that fight he had? Carcillo is far more of an agitator than falk is.
And maybe if AV had done more homework when first coming to the Rangers, all of this could have been avoided. MDZ has more to prove, but if his game can continue on its current pace, the Rangers will be either ableto move him for more of a return or hold onto him knowing that he can do the job. Not a bad position to be in.
If you were a 3rd pair D and the coach told you that you needed to be versatile or possibly sit, what would you do? Gotta give him credit, he saw the right wasn't working for him so he took a risk to try to prove that he was capable, just on the left. And let's also point out that asking a player to play out of position is a direct indictment of management not having enough of the proper personnel. I know the PP is working, but remember how AV said he wanted 2 right handed shots on each unit? There are 5 right handed shots on the entire team and one has a broken leg right now.
@TheNYRBlog perfect time to trade him he's expendable with jmoore and Allen
@TheNYRBlog I'm encouraged by how he's looked the last few games. He still need to keep up the consistency, but this is a good turn.
@TheNYRBlog Couldnt get any worse than what he was doing on the right side, so I guess thats an improvement.
If he was truly uncomfortable on the right side, then I don't blame him for waiting to tell AV. In reality, if he didn't try playing over there, and immediately told AV he didn't like playing the right side, he would look like a whiner.
I'm not a fan of DZ, but we need to all remember that he's still really just a kid, and not an assertive veteran (like Jags who flat out told Renney not to put him in the shootout - which many fans still crucified Jags for)
@TheNYRBlog apparently your not drinking enough...TRADE HIM NOW!
I gotta give the kid credit. I haven't noticed him and that's a good thing. he had a bad pinch in the dallas game but that's about all I remember. I'd keep him around for a bit to see if he could use this fire under his butt to sharpen his game in the long term.
@shoot_the_goalie Trade him!!!!!!
@AnnoyingJoe well, yeah, but..er...pfffft...other than THAT he is a helluva player.
@Say my NameHa! Yeah, I don't think anyone's putting Del Zotto in the Hall of Fame just yet, but even the biggest detractor has to acknowledge his improvement of late.
@screaminlunatic LOL! Relax there my friend, it's only a couple of games. Talk to me in a month.
@TheFanfave Trade value is definitely increasing.
@PATR2014 I'm not saying they should halt all trade discussions, just pointing out that he's been better.
@TheNYRBlog I've been talking to you for months and I'm gonna chirp like a tweeting' bird!
@TheNYRBlog I say TRADE NOBODY cause this is a cup TEAM. also i have a bridge and some lakefront property for sale CHEAP!