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08-18-2013, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by eco's bones View Post
The only thing that DZ has an advantage over Staal is offensive production. At 23 he doesn't match Staal at 23 either. And he's not going to get to top pairing as long as either McDonagh or Staal are around and healthy. Staal at 23 was very good in his own end. You have to think about who some of these D are lining up against. Del Zotto doesn't get to see much of Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Tavares, Eric Staal, Kovalchuk. It's guys like Marc Staal, McDonagh and Girardi that face them. They have the size, the strength, the skating (or enough of it in Girardi's case), the defensive aptitude to shut those players down with the help of Lundqvist. Del Zotto's defense isn't bad but it's not great and he's sheltered from playing against the best.
Revisionist memory on Staal. During Staal's 22/23 year old season, he was focusing on adding an offensive side to his game. As a result, his defensive play suffered. People on this board were up in arms about it, saying he had regressed or that he needed to stop trying to jump into the attack. Del Zotto has done far more by 23 to become a complete defenseman than Staal did by the same age. Will MDZ ever be the shut down D that Staal/Girardi are? I highly doubt it, but a guy who is above average on the defensive side while being exceptional on the attacking side is a more valuable player.

As for the future I don't know. I think someone from the left side D is getting moved this year--one player that's not going to be is McDonagh. Staal would deservedly bring back a much larger package than MDZ. Moore may need more sheltered minutes as well but he's a much better skater and a stronger player than MDZ. I don't see the Rangers moving him until they know exactly what they have. DZ needs to start putting up more offense. That is really his bread and butter and if he is to solidify his spot on the team he needs to get to 50 points anyway. Hearing how he's improving all the time but from his rookie season--37 points to his best season in 11-12--41 points is not much. This is the part of his game where he has the potential to stand out from the rest to the Rangers D corps and he needs to start doing it.
Again, Moore and Del Zotto are the same age. Assuming that one will jump forward while the other is a finished product is just odd. As for the improvement you keep "hearing about", it's easy to see if you watch the games from year to year.

Rookie MDZ was given such sheltered minutes that he would have needed a GPS to find his own zone. He was a kid, so they told him to just play an offensive game and not worry about the rest. The result was a decent point total and a hideous +/-.

2nd year MDZ wasn't quite as sheltered, and he didn't seem prepared for it. He was sent down as a wake up call. He was focusing on defense, but couldn't seem to bring those new responsibilities together with his offense.

Offseason--the wake up call seemed to work. Because of injury, MDZ didn't really get much time in the AHL. He DID go do Gary Roberts' conditioning camp and work on his skating though.

3rd year MDZ was still receiving sheltered minutes, but not nearly as sheltered as his rookie year. He responded by putting up career highs in points while also showing marked improvement in his defensive game.

4th year MDZ wasn't sheltered. He WAS getting some of the hard minutes against the top guys. His offense slipped a little bit, but that is to be expected from a 22 year old playing real minutes for the first time (especially when playing 1/3 of the season with a hernia).

Each year he has showed solid progression. Development isn't just about the stat line. I never in a million years would have believed that the guy we saw four years ago would be a (slightly) above average player in his own end. That's what he's done. I'm excited to see what he does in the next couple of seasons. Now that he knows how to defend, he can focus on building on his attacking instincts.

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