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08-18-2013, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by smoneil View Post
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.

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.

There have been games where he's been benched, or played under 20, but in the last for years Del Zotto has been playing a top 4 role since his rookie year. In his second season, he looked out of place, and looked tired towards the end of the first.

The word sheltered; to me, reflects how Matt Gilroy was deployed, and not most definitely not Del Zotto.

I think Michael hits 12-16 goals for the season, and starts skating the puck up the ice a lot more, as in creating a rush then he did under Torts. In a contract year, and with all the talk around him, I expect DZ to step up and deliver.

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