As we continue our "Prospect Review" series here at Blueshirt Banter we come to probably the most talked about prospect in the farm system that isn't named Grachev, michael Del Zotto. In 2006 Del Zotto was the second overall pick in the OHL priority draft, behind Stamkos. Del Zotto was the New York Rangers1st round pick--20th overall--in the 2008 entry draft. Widely considered to be one of the best offensive defenseman in the draft the Rangers were lucky to have him fall into their laps.
Ranger fans have been drooling over Del Zotto since they saw his numbers in the OHL. Del Zotto has spent the past three seasons in the OHL. In his rookie year in the OHL (2006-2007) he had 10 goals 47 assists for 57 points in 64 games. In 2007-2008 Del Zotto had 16 goals and 47 assists for 63 points in 64 games. Last year he split his time with Oshawa and London. With Oshawa he had 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points in 34 games. After the trade to London he notched 6 goals and 24 assists for 30 points in 28 games. He totaled 13 goals and 50 assists in 62 games last year.
Check after the jump for more on Del Zotto!Whatthose numbers show you is that he is a great regular season performer, but how about the playoffs? Well when the games are filled with pressure the 19 year old defenseman has shined. Last year he had 19 points (3 goals 16 assists) in 14 games. In his three year OHL career Del Zotto has 39 points (8 goals 31 assists) in 38 games.
When Del Zotto was first drafted there was a big knock on his defensive play. But he worked out those kinks last year. As per Hockey's Future Del Zotto is the Rangers second best prospect behind Anisimov and right in front of Grachev. Hockey's Future had this to say on Del Zotto:
Excellent offensive instincts, as well as exceptional skating and passing skills, Del Zotto plays with an edge to his game. A character player, with some defensive issues, there were questions about Del Zotto's conditioning in the past. However, he has changed his conditioning regimen this season and is developing better gap control in his own zone
Hockey's Future also rankes him 40th on the 50 top NHL prospect list. They had this to say about Del Zotto:
The New York Rangers first round pick, 20th overall, in the 2008 Entry Draft, Del Zotto is one of the top defensemen in the OHL. An offensive blueliner with excellent vision and skating ability, Del Zotto patrols the blueline with a bit of an edge. Although the 18-year-old has a chance to win a roster spot on the NHL team next fall, what is more likely is a return to the junior level for one more season. The Rangers are hoping that Del Zotto will use that time to develop into a premier power-play quarterback, as well as play for Canada in the 2010 U20 World Junior Championship.
As you know Jess from the Prospect Park has been helping us out with these reviews, and I don't think he is higher on a prospect like he is on Del Zotto. Here is what Jess had to say on Del Zotto:
Pure offense is the best way to describe him, can score from anywhere on the ice whether it is off the rush or via a set play. Want to see him become selfish and take the puck to the net more rather than being a set up man. During last year's OHL playoffs, we tracked Del Zotto having 11 "key" points (goals or assists that either tie or give team lead) and no prospect in years has done that. IF Del Zotto returns to the London Knights and stays healthy then he walks away with CHL Defenseman of the Year.
Wow those are some big words from Jess, and who can blame him for saying them? After all, Ranger fans have been thinking "Leetch" since Del Zotto was drafted. Del Zotto will be returning to London this year for a fourth season in the OHL and he will be under a very close microscope. All Ranger fans have been keeping him under a close watch but this year it will be different. Del Zotto will probably be given the C, and we will get to see how he grows as a leader.
Things are getting interesting! You're thoughts?