Apr 19, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto (4) shoots on the Buffalo Sabres net during the first period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

What to do with Michael Del Zotto?

Apr 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto (4) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated New York 4-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

At times, he can move the puck like no other. Deliver an up ice pass to allow someone to break in on the offensive zone, and put a very strong scoring attempt on the opposition’s goaltender.

Other times, he can make a big defensive mistake, which more times than not leads into a goal against, and a minus of the stat sheet for him.

Meet Michael Del Zas — Zotto. The New York Rangers very skilled defender yet can puzzle you and make you want to take off his head the next.

Del Zotto, drafted 20thoverall in the 2008 NHL draft by the New York Rangers was touted by Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti as the next Brian Leetch; a good offensive minded defenseman, but can play a very solid shut down defensive game as well.

He has shown flashes of his offensive skill, scoring 10 goals, and dishing out 31 assists during the 2011-2012 season. But his offensive play has been questioned at times. Consistently wide point shots, very timid lazy passes in the offensive zone, or defensive zone to start a breakout.

During his sophomore season, Del Zotto was struggling, so off to Connecticut he went to reestablish his game. While the Rangers made the playoffs that year, he sat back and watched with the taxi squad learning from his mistakes and vowing to be a better player the following year.

He started last season strong, Micheletti praising the kids upside and figured that he was going to be this consistent throughout the year, and in a deep post season run. Yet, his inconsistent play over rode anything he did well during the year, consistent mishaps in the defensive zone, giving up the puck that would lead to a questionable goal.

Fans on Twitter were calling for Tortorella to bench and sit Del Zotto, to put in someone different. People were begging for Steve Eminger, or Matt Gilroy at times to be put in place of Del Zotto during the course of this season.

Then the Rangers acquired John Moore from Columbus.

Suddenly, the top 4 minutes that Del Zotto was used to getting, were getting reduced as Moore was proving himself capable, and Tortorella was rewarding the young Moore with his solid and consistent play. The Rangers have a young defenseman waiting to get a crack at the lineup in Dylan McIlrath, and could find his way into the lineup as early as training camp.

Now that brings the idea of trading Del Zotto. He becomes expendable, and there has to be a team out there that is willing to take the risk, to see what kind of defenseman he can be away from the pressure cooker that is New York. Maybe, he can’t handle the pressure that comes with the territory that he plays in.

Or, do you let him play out his contract this year, and then based on his play through the season do you resign him, or do you let him walk? Or better yet, do you trade him during the trade deadline if there is a piece that becomes available to make a long cup run? These questions will be on the mind of not only Glen Sather, but whoever he hires to take over as coach of the team.

Now you’re Glen Sather, what would you do? Vote and leave your comments below.

Keep or Trade Michael Del Zotto?

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Tags: Glen Sather Joe Micheletti John Moore John Tortorella Matt Gilroy Michael Del Zotto New York Rangers Sam Rosen Steve Eminger

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