New York Rangers defenceman Michael Del Zotto will not be in the lineup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens and his absence is not the result of injury. According to Renaud Lavoie of the Journal de Montreal, the Rangers offensive blueliner is a healthy scratch tonight in Montreal, and he may also be on the trade block.
#rangers Michael Del Zotto will be a healthy scratch Saturday in MTL. Don't know if his future is in NY. Hearing trade is a possibility.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) November 15, 2013
As for sitting against the Habs tonight, Del Zotto is not thrilled:
“Obviously you’re never happy when you’re out of the lineup, but it’s the coach’s decision, and like I’ve said all along, I’m going to come to the rink with a smile on my face. I’m happy to be here and will try to work hard each day and try to get better.”
After a terrible October, the Rangers have played their way back into the playoff picture, winning 7 of their last 10 games. However, despite all the recent success, the Blueshirts still sit uncomfortably in 10th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers are all within two points of catching New York and propelling them into 13th place.
CBS Sports Eye On Hockey wrote about the possibility of a Del Zotto trade here. It’s always interesting when trade rumours surface, and this season many have already become viral. Will the Rangers actually trade former 2008 first round pick? It’s possible, but he may just be healthy scratched tonight because of his performance of late. Del Zotto has spent much of the season on the third defence pairing. New head coach Alain Vigneault prefers providing ice-time to Ryan McDonaugh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman ahead of number 4.
Del Zotto’s best attribute is offence. This season he has failed to significantly impact the offensive attack of his club, and that is hurting his case with the coach. Through 16 games played, the rover Ranger has amassed a minuscule 1 goal and 3 assists. For an offensive guy with well-publicized defensive deficiencies, 4 points is simply not good enough. The reward has to outweigh the risk, and that is not the case with Del Zotto right now.
The Rangers lefty has been forced to play on his off-side this season, allowing defence partner John Moore to occupy Del Zotto’s comfortable left side. That could be part of the reason the 23-year-old is seeing a decline in offensive production and puck moving effectiveness. Playing the opposite side is challenging, especially for young players. Toronto’s Jake Gardiner, also a lefty, recently expressed his troubles with playing the off-wing.
If a trade is imminent, there is no conclusive insider knowledge available to confirm anything at this time. But things happen quickly in hockey, as we learned earlier this week when the Buffalo Sabres revamped their head office and coaching staff. The Montreal and New York media will be actively working the case as the day goes on.
Stay up to date by following:
@HartnettHockey – CBS Local (New York Rangers)
@stevezipay – News Day sportswriter (New York Rangers)
@Dave_Stubbs – sports columnist with the Montreal Gazette (Montreal Canadiens)
@LavoieRenaud – Journal de Montreal (Montreal Canadiens)