During last night's Insider Trading segment on TSN, the panel was asked whether there was any news on the trade front:
Darren Dreger: "We are hearing some interesting names that are starting to surface. Two of them that come to mind are Brayden Schenn of the Phildadelphia Flyers and Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers. Now the Flyers aren't trying to push out Schenn – they may want to push out his brother Luke – but what they've told teams quietly is that if there is the right deal available, if they can find the right fit, then absolutely they would include Brayden Schenn in a trade scenario. And we know Paul Holmgren likes to make that big blockbuster deal. As for Del Zotto and the Rangers, he's not having a good year, playing well behind Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal on the left side, so he's a third-pairing defenceman. He could probably embrace a change and we're told that at least five or six teams have inquired about scenarios."
Pierre LeBrun: "I think one of those teams is the Ottawa Senators. They've had this mystifying start, they've been so inconsistent and I'm told one of their top priorities on the trade market between now and the trade deadline is to find another puck-moving defenceman and Del Zotto is on that list of players on their radar. But it's money in, money out with the Senators with the situation with ownership."
Michael Del Zotto?
I thought much of the emphasis on the blue line was on finding someone who could play the right-side in a top four capacity. As a left-handed shot who's already buried behind McDonagh and Staal in New York, it's worth noting that the Senators are also stockpiled with guys on the parent roster who play the left-side — Methot, Cowen, Phillips, Wiercioch and Borowiecki.
Now whether you think Del Zotto's puck-moving capabilities are something that the Senators sorely need on their blue line is your prerogative, but Del Zotto’s game isn’t without warts.
Del Zotto is only one of three Rangers defencemen who have put up 40+ points in a season since the Brian Leetch era ended (note: Michal Rozsival and Tom Poti were the others), but his defensive acumen has been subject to criticism.
From the New York Post’s Larry Brooks:
Del Zotto, 23 and in his fifth NHL season, has grown more and more unstable in his own end and erratic all over the ice. His decision-making is questionable. He has turned the assignment into as much of an adventure as a job, too often skating into trouble and putting the puck into bad ice rather than make quick and safe plays.
Del Zotto’s creativity and his headman tape-to-tape passes just haven’t materialized to great effect, even as Vigneault has publicly challenged his defensemen to generate more offense and get more pucks on net. Del Zotto, who missed one game with the flu and the next as a healthy scratch in October, is fourth on the blue line in shots, trailing John Moore, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman.
Considering the money the Sens would have to take on, $2.5 million, I can’t envision the Senators looking to add Del Zotto unless the asking price is absolutely non-existent.
Mind you, Lebrun was the journalist who repeatedly linked the Sens to Kyle Turris before that trade ever came to fruition, so there is that to keep in mind.
Personally, it would make more sense to acquire that right-handed defenceman who can stabilize the top four and then develop the player(s) that you have in hand *cough, cough* Wiercioch *cough, cough* who has already demonstrated that he can handle a left defence role in the team’s top four.
However, considering how much Wiercioch has sat in the pressbox during Jared Cowen’s struggles, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Paul MacLean simply does not want him in.