Aaron Portzline took to the WFAN airwaves yesterday and said the Bluejackets would likely pull the trigger on a deal that sent Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, and a first round pick to Columbus with Rick Nash going the other way to New York.
Most Rangers fans have had mixed feelings on a deal like that including myself, but if Del Zotto was swapped in for Stepan I’d have no problem with the deal.
One of the things you have to weigh is who is more important to the team. Stepan right now is the number 2 center on the team while Del Zotto is the 4th best (5th if you include Michael Sauer) defenseman on the team. Stepan has more value in that regard, because under no circumstance should you not trade away your at best 4th defenseman in a trade for an automatic 30 goal scorer.
Then you have to weigh in who is more replaceable. If Stepan was traded in all likely hood Artem Anisimov would take his place on the second line which would be fine, because production wise they would be very similar. But that then opens a hole on the 3rd line. Who would center the 3rd line? Do you move Brian Boyle up to center it, making the 4th line a virtual black hole of death with Mike Rupp and Arron Asham and such? Or do you look at some of the young kids in Hartford, or in juniors. Maybe the team looks via trade or free agency. Either way it’s not a great option doing that.
If you move Del Zotto however, you can immediately bring up Tim Erixon who should be able to slot into a top 4 role with relative ease. That’s not so bad. Erixon to many has a higher ceiling than Del Zotto so slotting him into that role with some growing pains to go along with it would not be so bad.
Now it’s a matter of who has better potential. Derek Stepan has all the makings to be a legitimate second line center who can put up 60 points a season. Some have even compared him to a young Brad Richards. Del Zotto on the other hand can become a good offensive minded defenseman who would be able to quarterback most team’s power plays. Stepan to me is more of a sure thing to reach his potential than Del Zotto.
Del Zotto’s two biggest flaws in his game are his defense and his skating (his poor defense is an extension of his skating). To me these are two fixes that don’t happen over night. Skating is something that doesn’t improve a lot by the time you reach the NHL level. It’s just something you either have or you don’t. Del Zotto will have to work extremely hard to improve it. His defense needs work but I don’t know how much he can improve defensively if he doesn’t improve his skating. Meanwhile, Stepan’s flaws like getting a shot off quicker, and long passes can be improved easier than Del Zotto’s.
Well that’s my case. If Del Zotto were swapped in for Stepan I would make that potential deal Portzline was talking about. Would I feel great about it? No. But you have to give to get, and especially for a player like Nash.
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