On one hand, the team lacks offensive talent on the blueline, and they might just insert him into the lineup hoping he can rekindle some of what he brought in his rookie season.
On the other hand, young defenseman take time and effort to develop, and they probably want to develop him correctly, instead of rushing him. I see the Rangers trying to either sign or trade for an offensive defenseman this summer if they aren't confident in Del Zotto heading into the season.
They still highly regard Del Zotto and consider him a part of the core. They've clarified that several times.
He's been injured which is why he hadn't been playing in Connecticut. And now their season is over.
He scored 37 points as a 19 year old rookie in the NHL. He had a completely normal Sophomore slump. He will be back and he will be fine.
Another thing to consider is they will not be able to afford a McCabe or any other veteran defenseman like him. They need to extend their very important RFA group this summer, and they will probably attempt to add Richards to get Gaborik and the Power Play going.
I personally feel Del Zotto will have a bounce back year and really solidify his spot.
They need to increase the roster's overall skill level while remaining a hard working responsible unit. If MDZ is paired up with a physical stay-at-home simple kind of player, that will help him.
The Rangers sent Delly to the AHL to play games and he ended up with a broken finger. If the Whale advanced,MDZ would have played in the 2nd round. DZ is still waiver exempt so he could begin next season in the AHL and then get recalled like McDonagh did.
Slats is tied to developing MDZ right now as our offensive piece on the blue-line come-hell-or-high-water. Bobby Sangs is gone, McD is a 2 way guy, and he passed on Fowler at the draft. If MDZ doesn't develop into a #1 PMD and ppQB there's going to be a ****-storm of second guessing
I have no problem with him spending most or all of next year refining his game in CT. He's still only 20 years old...it's way too early to be bailing on the kid. Maybe he makes the team out of camp, maybe it's a midseason call up, or maybe he's not up until 2012. Either way as long as he continues to develop I'm not worried about it. Sooner would be better obviously...but even if it takes him another year or two to put it all together he'll still be very young.
The Rangers defense is fully stocked for the foreseeable future.
The current top 4 are all under the age of 26:
Marc Staal (24)
Dan Girardi (26)
Michael Sauer (23)
Ryan McDonagh (21)
Assuming McCabe, Gilroy, and Eminger are all not brought back, there are 2 open spots in the top 6. Options in the immediate future within the organization:
Michael Del Zotto (20)
Pavel Valentenko (23)
Tomas Kundratek (21)
Options in a year or two:
Dylan McIlrath (18)
Michael Del Zotto is a huge part of the Rangers future, and I don't think trading youth away is what this team has in the plans. The future is amazingly bright for the Rangers defense.
When you look at the system the Rangers have defensively, and then look at some of the offensive players coming up like Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Bourque, and Christian Thomas, you really can't help but be really excited about the trajectory of this franchise, for once.
He had a "sophmore slump" so we'll see how he looks in pre-season and camp. If he's ready, he's ready but we aren't going to rush him. All because he had a bad season, doesn't mean he won't reach his potential. The kid is young and defensemen take longer to improve anyway.
We do need him though as he's our best puck moving defenseman..
He had probably the worst sophomore slump this team and it's fans have seen in a while, especiallyfor a guy who played so well his first season in the NHL and crashed back down to earth. alot of people are forgetting just how talented this kid really is; if he gets his **** together and his head back into the game I see no reason for him not being able to put up similar if not better numbers than he did his first season.