The New York Rangers have started to find their way—the Blueshirts have a record of 6-8-0 through 14 games. Although this record is solid when you consider how poorly the Rangers played at the start of the season, they still are having a problem scoring goals.
They are currently 27th in the league with a scoring average of 1.86 goals per game, so it is obvious that they need to bring some talent in.
Over the weekend Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that the Blueshirts would consider dealing offensive defenseman Michael Del Zotto to gain some much-needed scoring help, but is this a move that the team should be considering?
Garrioch said, "We're hearing the Rangers are so desperate for help they might be prepared to move as well. Blueliner Michael Del Zotto, who has dramatically regressed and underperformed, is even among the names being discussed."
Now while the Blueshirts are desperate, it is unfair to say that MDZ has dramatically regressed and underperformed. While he is a valuable asset, they should not move the 23-year-old native of Stouffville, Ontario unless they receive another offensive defenseman in the deal.
A player who would fit this mold would be someone like Brandon Gormley of the Phoenix Coyotes. He has similar size, upside and ability, and he is a player who could fill Del Zotto's skates in due time.
Right now Del Zotto is the only true offensive defenseman in the organization, and no one on the roster has proven that they could replace his production. John Moore could eventually replace MDZ, but right now Del Zotto is the main weapon on the Blueshirts' blue line.
The Rangers do need some help scoring goals, but subtracting Del Zotto from the roster can actually hurt the team's offense. Taking him out of the lineup subtracts speed, vision, passing prowess and a key offensive weapon altogether.
He has not played well so far this season, but the above videos show him at his absolute best.
It goes without saying that MDZ is a polarizing player amongst the fanbase; he has even been dubbed Del Zaster by some of his biggest critics.
Some of the criticisms have been warranted, but he usually bears the brunt of blame when things are not going well. What fans and the Blueshirts need to consider is the following.
Del Zotto is entering his fifth year at the NHL level, having made his debut at the tender age of 19. Not many players have this chance, and Del Zotto made the most of the opportunity. The next year saw some growing pains, and as a result he was sent down the AHL.
He came back better than ever and continued to produce offensively. Although he has defensive lapses from time to time, his top priority is facilitating offense, and he does that pretty well for his age. If you don't believe that statement, these numbers should help convince you.
|Michael Del Zotto's Career To Date|
|Age||Season||Games||Goals||Assists||Points||Points Per Game|
These are solid numbers, yet it is expected that brighter days are ahead. Del Zotto will soon be entering his prime and will be poised and prepared to make an impact. As he grows and gains more experience, his defensive game will become more polished, but pairing him with a solid stay-at-home defender can help mask some of his inadequacies.
Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson are two of the NHL's top offensive defensemen, and they don't have very strong defensive games. They are heralded for their ability to pass and score, and their defensive lapses are only brought to the forefront when they cost their team a game.
Del Zotto has had his fair share of "oops" moments in his career to date, but he is still a work in progress. Defensemen take longer to adapt to the NHL than forwards do, so Del Zotto still deserves some slack. Some players pick up the game faster than others, but Del Zotto has made some solid strides since entering the NHL.
He may be a valuable commodity at his best, but the Blueshirts should hold off from making moves until they are sure what they want to do with their offense.
If Rick Nash is going to miss a significant chunk of the season, making a deal would be reasonable, but they should it play it safe during the interim.
Del Zotto finally scored his first goal of the season during Monday night's 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, so maybe things will start to turn around for the young wunderkind blueliner.