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He's no longer on the team, but Michael Del Zotto's rapid fall from grace that resulted in a trade to Nashville has to be included on any list of letdowns for the Rangers' season.
Two seasons ago, Del Zotto had 41 points and averaged 22 minutes per game for a team that went to the Eastern Conference Final.
Last year wasn't as good, but he still averaged 23 minutes a game and added 21 points.
This year? A disaster. He had just 11 points in 42 games with the Rangers, making a number of defensive mistakes per game.
As Vigneault told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News after Del Zotto was traded:
For the most part Michael was alright. He played some good hockey. I was expecting a little bit more offensively. For whatever reason, it just didn’t come out on a regular basis. I’m not sure why. But at the end of the day, his play lately had been better. We’re on a pretty good streak right now, and he’s been part of that. This was just a matter of right-hander, left-hander, and him and Johnny Moore both are the same age, both bring similar things to the table, and the right-hander – in my estimation and Glen’s estimation – made us a better corps on D.
Reading between the lines, it's pretty clear that Vigneault is happy Del Zotto is gone.
Given how well Kevin Klein has played, the Rangers really did upgrade their defensive unit. Besides, it's not like Del Zotto is setting the world on fire in Nashville. He played just a paltry three minutes in his last game against Calgary and has been a scratch. As Nashville's coach Barry Trotz told Josh Cooper of The Tennessean:
His game has slipped, and our coaching staff has talked to him about making solid decisions, solid plays and he has gotten away from that a little bit," Trotz said. "We had some healthy people and we felt this would be a good time. You're always competing for a spot. He's not veteran enough to not compete for a spot. Every night has to be about consistency for him and we have some people we can pull in and out.
At one point, Del Zotto looked like he was going to be one of the game's best young defenders. Now? He might be playing himself out of the league.
Simply put, the Rangers would be better off if they had the Del Zotto from two years ago. But they don't. It seems like that Del Zotto doesn't even exist.