Hello everyone welcome to hockey season. Its been a long summer, and I want to just say thank god Hockey is BACK!
Ok now to the real point. It seems like the Rangers have something in defensemen Michael del Zotto. He has looked alright in the two preseason games, and has survived the first of the cuts here in preseason. Should the Rangers keep del Zotto and let him crack the opening day lineup? Lets look at the Rangers' options....
Option 1: Send him back to the OHL. This is a very viable option as it has worked in the past (see Staal, Marc). The only problem I see in this scenario is del Zotto is truly one of the best defensemen in the OHL and could possibly get away with some mistakes that could develop into bad habits in the NHL. On the flip side, Michael del Zotto could be valuable experience and surely could make the jump to the NHL after this season.
Option 2: Send him to the AHL after the next series of cuts. Del Zotto has looked good, in my opinion, but I do not see an NHL ready defensemen yet. He's still young and makes plenty of mistakes. Hopefully he uses the preseason to iron out all those mistakes because there is a HUGE difference between the NHL and the OHL. In the AHL del Zotto could adapt to more of an NHL-like game (even though we all know there is still a difference between the tempo of play in the AHL and the NHL). He could also be hampered in the AHL by the log jam of defensemen the Rangers currently have. Finally, as we all know, AHL success does not always translate to NHL success. Del Zotto may light it up in Hartford, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's Ranger material.
Option 2: Keep him in the NHL for a full year no questions asked. Since Del Zotto cannot be sent down to Hartford (as I have been informed due to his age and draft status) the argument could be made to keep Del Zotto on the Rangers squad for a full year. He could serve as a 7th defensemen or a partner to Matt Gilroy (who's spot is his to lose so far by his play). If Del Zotto is a 7th defensemen it would be pointless to keep him around. He won't get game experience, or even playing experience for that matter. If he's horrible as a defensemen and we figure this out too late, he'll be on the roster getting a whooping which could label him prematurely as a bust, or ruin his confidence. Which leads me to option 3...
Option 3: The 10 game look. The Rangers could keep Michael Del Zotto on their roster for 10 games before they can no longer send him back to the OHL. Should Del Zotto need another year in the OHL the team can use these 10 games to decide. The St. Louis Blues did the same thing with defensemen Alex Pietrangelo last year. Also, after these 10 games the Rangers can decide to keep Del Zotto in the NHL, or even send him to Hartford.
I think Option 3 is the Rangers best bet. It gives the Rangers a sample size (even if its small) to see if Del Zotto can keep up with the big boys, or if he needs some conditioning. The 10 game sample gives the Rangers 3 options to consider after the sample size. Del Zotto is a first round pick with a lot to prove, and a lot of talent to show as well. Some said he was better than Tavares in the OHL playoffs last year. Great. Now prove it Mike. Its your destiny, and work hard for it. He should be rewarded with a 10 game look, and then let his fate be sealed. We have plenty of defensemen that can take his spot if he is sent back to the OHL or the AHL, so that shouldn't be an issue.
What do you think... Here's a poll! (sorry I don't want to close the poll, but option 2 from now on does not apply to the original. Sorry for the confusion)