After watching three straight games from the sidelines, the victim of a healthy scratch, New York Rangers defenceman Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup tonight. Rumours have run rampant suggesting the Rangers puck-moving blueliner is on the trade block. According to CBS Sports, the Ottawa Senators are among NHL clubs interested in Del Zotto’s services. Read full article from CBS Sports here.
What’s the deal? The Rangers sat Del Zotto in three straight games. That seems excessive. If they were sending a message one game would’ve sufficed, no? Maybe. I guess it’s a complicated situation. The Blueshirts are deep on defence, and new coach Alain Vigneault may have a different outlook on his team then say, John Tortorella, who played the puck-mover regularly.
Before we speculate any further, let’s take into account the words of the coach. Vigneault told the New York Daily News:
“I’m hoping the next time we talk about Michael, I’ll tell you, ‘Yes, I’ve seen him skate, beat the forecheck, join the rush, get shots through, that’s why he’s playing regularly and that’s why his minutes are higher than they were.”
Vigneault is pretty clear about what he expects from the young blueliner. On a defence corps loaded with stay-at-homers, Del Zotto’s role is obvious – he needs to be a dynamic force offensively. If he can’t, he is useless, basically.
Is Del Zotto on the trade block? He probably is. When TSN Insider Darren Dreger and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun say a guy is on the trade market, that guy is on the trade market. However, even the National Hockey League’s most credible informants aren’t always right. While teams may be calling about the Rangers’ number 4, and GM Glen Sather may be entertaining those calls, it doesn’t mean a deal is imminent or that the Blueshirts desire a defence corps without Michael Del Zotto in the mix.
Del Zotto’s return after three games on the sidelines as a healthy scratch was a good one for his team. The Rangers played a road contest against a hot Dallas Stars team and won 3-2, earning the club’s fifth win in eight tries. Del Zotto played 15:30 and scored no points. But he is what he is. His skills are obvious. Baby steps. I doubt he is moved unless something significant is returned.
It’s not all bad with Michael Del Zotto. Rangers fans, you’ll recall and enjoy this: