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2012 NHL Rumors: Michael Del Zotto All That's Left For New York Rangers' Defense

Presswire

The New York Rangers signed Anton Stralman Thursday afternoon, avoiding arbitration with a two-year deal. Stralman marks the second defenseman signed by Glen Sather this offseason (Stu Bickel was the first) and leaves only one piece remaining for the Rangers' defensive corps, Michael Del Zotto.

But before we get to Del Zotto, let's take a quick look at Stralman. John Tortorella trusted Stralman when he sent down Tim Erixon and brought Stralman in for the Rangers' playoff run. Stralman thrived under the role, and played some great hockey for the Rangers down the stretch.

While his offense never fully came around, he was a solid defender and did score six points (three goals) in 20 playoff games. His role -- assume the team's fifth defenseman -- is an important one, especially if there are any issues with any of the top four.

Join me after the jump for more.

Now Sather needs to focus on Del Zotto. The Rangers' top offensive defenseman had a brilliant bounce-back year last season, compiling 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points and adding 10 more points in the playoffs. In what ended up being a do-or-die year for Del Zotto, his defensive game saw vast improvements as did his responsibility with the team.

Working alongside Brad Richards, Del Zotto also improved his vision and passing abilities. Del Zotto's game also improved during the playoffs, impressing John Tortorella, and probably doing enough to make sure Glen Sather didn't include him in the deal for Rick Nash.

The Rangers obviously want Del Zotto back, and they want him to run their power play. He should improve in that regard, especially since he was mainly focused on his defensive game last season. The question, right now, is how many years and for how much.

So go ahead guys, what do you think Del Zotto is worth?

The floor is yours.